Even though social media has now been around for many years, the rules and laws surrounding what you can and can’t do when advertising on social media are difficult to navigate around. This is because social media is an incredibly fast-growing phenomenon and it’s difficult to keep up with what’s happening, both on a national and global level. Many companies violate advertising laws. So to make things clearer, we’re listing the most important rules for companies that advertise in social media.
1. Respect copyright and trademark protection
This may seem obvious but companies often miss this in their marketing. It’s easy to think that you can freely use memes and popular songs that are widely spread on social media, but the fact is that even the most popular visual and audio content on social media are covered by copyright.
On many sites, you can sign up and pay to be able to use content for social media. The websites will state in their terms how you’re allowed to reuse the content. In most cases, this is the safest way to ensure that the content you’re using is legally okay to use. If you still want to reuse content that is trending in social media, you need to try to find out who the author of the content is and ask for permission to use it.
2. What are the rules regarding UGC?
User generated content is content that social media users who use your products and/or services have created. Most often, UGC-content is created by smaller influencers who recommend products and services on their platforms. As a company, you can pay influencers to create user-generated content for you, and by default companies usually state that the copyright to the material in these cases belongs to the company.
Many companies also send samples to social media users which leads to the recipients creating user generated content. In these cases, it’s important that you ask the influencer if it’s alright to reuse the content, especially if you intend to advertise it. Best practice is to offer the influencer a fee to be able to advertise the content. How big the fee should be depends on how big a reach you expect to get, how long you intend to let your ad run and how well established the influencer in question is.
3. All paid ads with influencers must be clearly marked
If you want to use influencers to get your message out, it is especially important to mark the content as advertisement. On Instagram, among other platforms, you can now collaborate with influencers with branded content. This way, a branded content label appears above the post. But when it comes to advertising rules, this is usually not enough. According to Swedish practice, it should never be possible to misinterpret whether content in social media is a paid ad or not. Since the branded content labeling through Instagram is so small, it’s important that the influencer also writes in the caption that the collaboration is a paid collaboration between you and them.
The same applies to you as a company if you post the material on your channel as well. Otherwise, the risk is that you’ll be accused of false marketing.
4. GDPR also applies to social media
The purpose of advertising on social media can be different. It’s not always a company wants to sell a product or service, but sometimes the purpose may be to market a future launch where users can sign up to receive information in advance. Sometimes the aim is to get more subscribers to a newsletter. And sometimes you might want to promote your loyalty program. When collecting user data, you have to comply with applicable data protection laws. In Sweden, this simply means that you need to comply with the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
It needs to be clear in your ad how you intend to use the data. The people you target must be able to give consent and approve that you may use their data in future communications. Although it can be seen as approval when a person enters their email address, it’s important that it’s clearly stated what the person in question actually agrees to when entering their email.
5. Be genuine and honest when advertising on social media
Last but not least, be transparent. Be clear and honest about who benefits from what you sell, why your concept is strong and what the customer actually gets when buying from you. In order to be heard through the social media noise, it can feel tempting to embellish the message, but the risk is that you’ll be reported for false marketing. And in today’s digital society, it’s incredibly easy for users to quickly find information about which companies have been reported and which ones receive critical reviews.
So make sure to use the strengths you have without embellishing them too much. If you have a good product or service, that will be enough. And in turn, that will only lead to the customers positive experiences giving your marketing an extra boost.