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Communications Council releases guidelines for social media best practice

Industry body The Communications Council has released a set of guidelines for the industry for its use of social media.

The guidelines are intended to define best practice for the industry.

The framework applies to both employee use, and the use of social media on behalf of brands. It has been released as a ‘beta’ version and is intended to evolve with changes in the marketing landscape.

The guidelines do not cover the areas raised as a cause of concern by marketers in the wake of the ASB ruling, specifically around reasonable response times for brands on social media.

Iain McDonald, chairman of the Communications Council Digital Committee told Mumbrella: “We tried to be really mindful that we didn’t to be preachy – these are not rules, they’re guidelines. This is the start of the industry taking these matters seriously, taking responsibility. Authenticity is high on the agenda. These guidelines are in beta; it’s a document created by a team of volunteers who’ve worked very hard, and we’re very open to constructive criticism and feedback – the more the better. We’ll be looking to the comment thread on this site and others as part of the discussion”.

The Communications Council suggested in a release that those organisations currently without guidelines could adopt these, and those agencies and marketers already using a policy should cross reference their existing guidelines with this version.

The employee usage section covers 8 points:

    1. Public vs Private (start with the assumption that anything you say can be read by anyone, anywhere, at any time)
    2. Be transparent
    3. Be accurate
    4. Be professional
    5. Be fair and respectful
    6. Be smart
    7. Be aware of confidentiality
    8. Be careful

The list of guidelines for use of social media on behalf of a brand is similar:

  1. Start with a plan – crisis management
  2. Be transparent
  3. Be accurate
  4. Be professional
  5. Be fair and respectful
  6. Be responsible
  7. Be smart
  8. Be aware of confidentiality
The guidelines do not cover the areas raised as a cause of concern by marketers in the wake of the ASB ruling, specifically around reasonable response times for brands.

Margaret Zabel, CEO of The Communications Council said in a press release: “This month’s controversial ruling from the Advertising Standards Bureau is a timely reminder of the developing landscape of communications and our legal and ethical accountabilities.”

The Communications Council will formally launch the guidelines at a paid event, ‘Risk Management and Legal Compliance in Social Media” on 10 September 2012.

The full guidelines are available as a PDF here.

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