Facebook marketers in Australia – I hope you’ve seen this one.
Last week I concluded a series on what I’d do if I were in charge of Alfa Romeo’s social media presence. A significant part of that series dealt with what I see as the benefits of a blog as your social hub instead of Facebook, which is where the bulk of Alfa Romeo’s money is spent right now.
From The Age:
A landmark ruling that Facebook is an advertising medium – and not just a way to communicate – will force companies to vet comments posted by the public to ensure they are not sexist, racist or factually inaccurate.
In a move that could change the nature of the social networking site forever, companies could be fined or publicly shamed for the comments that appear on their Facebook ”brand” pages.
This is massive for companies with significant brand presence on Facebook.
Most of these companies will have an agency handle their Facebook page for them. Some might have an internal representative that handles strategy as well, but monitoring comments, etc, is not something you necessarily want to spend time on in-house.
According to this ruling by the Advertising Standards Board here in Australia, brand pages on Facebook are now classed as ‘advertising’ rather than merely ‘communication’. As such, they’ll be subject to all the usual scrutiny regarding discrimination, abuse and factual content. Companies that contravene standards risk being named and potentially penalised, which is not the sort of publicity companies turn to Facebook for.
The kicker is that it’s not just the advertiser’s text that is scrutinised. It’s the comments section, too. So companies are now responsible for everything written by every Vitamin D deficient, underwear-clad, unemployed troll that likes to sit in his/her bedroom with little more to do than agitate online.
Now, imagine you’re a big global company that gets 200 or more comments for each Facebook post that you publish. Most of these comments are short and of little substance, but you’ve now got to read each and every one of them and have a clear policy in place for which ones you might have to remove.
And imagine how much you’re going to pay your social media agency to do this for you.
Once again, the answer (for Alfa Romeo and others) is to concentrate on community development through a site that emphasises quality contact and relationship development more than just occasional, surface-level contact. You get more meaningful contact, more meaningful discussion and the community will generally self-regulate as long as you set the standard properly on the front page.
Bear in mind that this story applies for Australia only at this point, but it’ll be interesting to see if other jurisdictions pick up on it.