Here’s why advertising on social media may be more dangerous than you think

Here’s why advertising on social media may be more dangerous than you think

It’s no news that businesses are increasingly using social media to promote themselves and their products. It can prove highly effective in engaging the target market and gauging direct responses from customers. However the traditional restraints on advertising also apply to social networks – as always, businesses need to avoid misleading or deceptive advertising to protect their brand.

Simple, you say? Not exactly. On social media, businesses can be held accountable for things their customers say. They retain a duty to ensure that nobody is misled by any posts associated with their page. Most business owners and executives don’t know that.

In fact, in a later blog we’ll show you how a bunch of companies and small businesses racked up over $1 million in penalties for misleading advertising on social media. For now, here are a few tips on how to avoid jeopardising your compliance online.

  1. Set the standards: You need to establish some ground rules for how your business conducts itself in the public eye – the same goes for social media. Train your staff to avoid posting potentially misleading content and create a rule-book that will help your team keep this awareness at the forefront of their minds whilst online. Create a policy for how you expect your social media followers to behave and make it publicly available and easy to access. You’re best off moderating your social media posts with a compliance solution.


  1. Don’t be afraid to crackdown: It can seem counter-productive, but you should block followers who continually breach your company’s social media policy. Companies are liable for everything on their social media pages and that includes comments posted by customers. ‘But why would I be liable for something somebody else has said?’ The truth is that leaving misleading statements on your profile amounts to misleading and deceptive conduct, even if it wasn’t you that posted it. Crazy, I know. If it’s a one off, caution the follower and direct them to your social media policy. If it’s their tenth violation, it’s worth hitting the block or delete button.


  1. Engage with the customers: If a follower asks a genuine question about your product in the comments section, it is worthwhile taking the time to clarify. Replying to questions in the comment section demonstrates good business practice, attentiveness and probably answers the question for tens of other followers thinking the same thing. It also covers your a**. You’re doing the right thing in the eye of the law – clarifying potential misconceptions. If you’re a larger company with hundreds of thousands of active followers, it is best to designate time for this amongst the marketing team. If you’re smaller, manage responses as best you can and delete comments that may mislead other followers.


Nurturing your online audience cultivates a loyal and active base of followers that will grow to love your business and your product. You don’t want to mislead your consumers and ruin hard-earned trust with your audience. You definitely don’t want to be negotiating penalties with the ACCC or defending yourself in court. You need to make sure you’re on top of what your social media channels are promoting, even if it’s not you doing the posting.

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