How to navigate the brave new world of social media regulation

Photo of smart phone with social media apps

Today’s announcement that Ofcom will have more powers to force social media firms to act over harmful content is no surprise, but what does it mean in reality in terms of social media regulation?

DTW Director Pete Whelan takes a look at the new proposal and gives four top tips for harassed and harangued social media managers in the brave new world.

1) We’re already responsible for our content

Say a million content creators throughout the UK are reading the news today! Of course, no-one managing any social channels spends any time checking and re-checking their content and carefully crafting posts to make sure they’re on message and don’t have any unfortunate typos…

The reality is that the Ofcom proposal is grabbing the headlines. However, it is likely to have much more impact on Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat than any of us responsible content creators. That said, it’s a great time to review social media regulation and what we’re doing to make sure we are absolutely bang on.

  • Be clear in your objectives
  • Understand your audiences
  • Create some great and relevant content
  • Speak like a human
  • Evaluate and do more of what works!

2) Regulation isn’t new – take a look at the Advertising Standards Authority code

The Advertising Standards Authority’s CAP Code has covered social media content in the UK since 2011.

Yes – that does include organic content posted on your own channels – not just ad campaigns. The ASA can and does rule about the appropriateness of organic content.

Still not sure? Try this quote for size – “marketers should be aware that any content that bears a relationship to the products or services they offer has the potential to be considered directly connected and therefore within the ASA’s remit.”

You can read all about the ASA’s remit on social media in its handily new updated guide.

3) The big social networks will continue to tighten up the rules

There are already things that social networks are doing to better police content.

For example, Facebook has cracked down a lot on the use of clickbait headlines in the last 12 months. You need to factor this into your strategy and make sure you’re playing to the ever-changing whims of each individual network to get the best audience engagement.

4) So what’s next?

The biggest point for me on this is how will Ofcom, as a regulator, communicate the work it is doing to its stakeholders and ensure that the public, in particular, understands its remit.

This is going to be particularly challenging given the global nature of social media. We know from our work with clients like the FCA and the SRA where we helped them with communicating complex UK only issues such as regulatory changes that this can be achieved successfully, but the work plan for this will need to start now in order for it to be a success. Get in touch with our team today if you’d like to learn more about the work we undertake daily on this topic.

Thanks for reading