Picture this. You’re at a Gourmerican burger joint chomping a cheeseburger, when an outspoken vegan friend starts preaching that you’re killing the planet. Last week, that same vegan downed a pricey glass of pinot before their flight to a far-flung destination, armed with their strongest mossie repellant and first aid kit. Anything amiss?
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has released new Social Media Comment Moderation Guidelines in a bid to clarify how much responsibility brand owners have for user comments posted in social channels.
IAB Australia director of regulatory affairs, Samantha Yorke, said there has been confusion across the business community about how to manage user comments on social media platforms, and pointed out there are risks for organisations that aren’t aware of their responsibilities when it comes to the nature of these posts.
IAB’s view is that user comments directed towards an organisation or social media platform, or to other users who are drawn to a particular organisation, do not constitute advertising.
However, all stakeholders have a responsibility to manage user comments, IAB stated. This includes the users, who need to think about content before it is posted and take responsibility for their comments; brand owners, who should be engaged in responsible moderation across their social media channels; platform providers, who should remove comments reported to them which are illegal or violate terms and conditions as well as empower organisations with tools to help moderate social channels; and the community, who should report comments that violate applicable rules.
“There is a real risk that organisations who treat user comments as advertising will err on the side of caution and moderate user comments very conservatively, which will adversely impact their presence on social platforms, and which arguably undermines the very spirit under which social media thrives,” Yorke said.
The new IAB guidelines recommend how organisations should moderate user generated comments posted to social media channels, as well as tools available from social media platform operators to help brands deal with user posts. The guidelines also identify best business practice and provide general advice on managing conversations in a social media environment.
IAB’s top practice recommendations for brand owners are:
- Develop moderation guidelines and publishing them on social media property;
- Consider developing an internal moderation schedule to identify who is moderating which social media properties and at which times;
- Develop a crisis management plan in the event that an issue arises on your social media platform which needs escalating;
- If you don’t have appropriate resources within the organisation for social media moderation, consider hiring a specialist moderation business well versed in conflict management and jurisdictional matters;
- If you are directly soliciting a response or user generated content in relation to a provocative or edgy question, ensure you have adequate resources to take extra case to review all subsequent responses promptly;
- Be aware of specific legal or regulatory requirements if your business or product is directed towards children;
- Regularly review tools available to your organisation when you develop a social media presence;
- Provide feedback to the platform operators around how their tools work and any suggestions for improvement.