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LEGISLATION NEWS: Businesses in search of social media guidelines

Businesses might need to introduce social media guidelines to make sure their employees comply with the new ASA CAP Code, a new survey suggests.

According to the research, commissioned by PR and marketing consultancy, Liz Lean PR, in conjunction with social media and IT consultancy, SocialTech, half of the employees responding to the survey admitted to writing about their company on a social media website, such as Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, three quarters of them said they receive no guidance from their employers regarding what they could or couldn’t write.

The survey follows the introduction of the new ASA CAP Code, that became effective on 1 March 2011 and has extended the authority’s remit to cover online marketing communications on advertisers own websites and on other free online platforms, such as social networking sites.

However, it appears that there are still concerns among companies that without social media guidelines, businesses are potentially leaving themselves wide open to being penalised by the ASA for their employees’ online activity.

Liz Willingham, managing director at Liz Lean, explains, “The results of our survey highlight the importance of good communication from the top down. As ambassadors of your brand, employees need to be made aware and given comprehensive guidance on how to conduct themselves in all situations to protect the overall reputation of the company.”

Luke Williams, managing director of SocialTech, comments: “As this research reveals, businesses need to be educated about the risks involved when undertaking PR and marketing on social platforms. Eighty four per cent of people use social networking sites for personal reasons, which can lead to mixed messages and a blurring of the boundaries between work and play.” He also adds: “We recommend developing a sound business driven strategy to help deliver clear, successful online communication campaigns.”