Protecting Your Brand On Facebook

With an increasing number of businesses turning to Facebook to communicate with existing or potential customers, it’s as important as ever to ensure that your brand is complying with platform policies and local legislation.

For Australian businesses, a recent ruling by the Advertising Standards Bureau, and supported by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission dictates that Facebook Pages are a form of marketing and therefore subject to regulation under advertising codes. It stipulates that brands are responsible for all pictures, comments, posts and other user generated content and can be held accountable for failing to remove discriminatory, false and misleading information within 24 hours of it being posted.

With the threat of court action, the ASB have “…considered that the Facebook site of an advertiser is a marketing communication tool over which the advertiser has a reasonable degree of control and could be considered to draw the attention of a segment of the public to a product in a manner calculated to promote or oppose directly or indirectly that product. The board determined that the provisions of the Code apply to an advertiser’s Facebook page. As a Facebook page can be used to engage with customers, the board further considered that the code applies to the content generated by the advertisers as well as material or comments posted by users or friends.”

To help you comply, I’ve compiled a few helpful pieces of advice which if used with a strong Facebook strategy, will ensure you remain on the right side of the regulations.

1. Two handy pieces of Facebook functionality which are often overlooked in guides is how to leverage the moderation blocklist and a profanity filter to simplify the process of moderating user comments. As someone who has managed pages of 8,000+ people, believe me when I tell you that these options are a massive time saver.

Simply click ‘Edit Page‘ followed by ‘Manage Permissions‘ and set your profanity filter to the required level (None, Medium or Strong). Directly above the filter dropdown is a handy little text field that allows you to enter ‘keywords’ to blocklist.

When a user comment is posted and it contains one of these keywords, Facebook will automatically hide it until you have time to review.

You may choose to place commonly abused words in the list which people are likely to use when discriminating against others.

Remember though – no system is foolproof. People are uniquely talented creatures – there will always be a few fans who will quickly realise that common obscenities are automatically hidden and will purposefully misspell profanities to ensure they bypass the filter.

As this occurs, you’ll be able to grow your blocklist and eventually stamp out the majority of bad behaviour.

2. Always ensure you’re take advantage of the ‘About‘ page on Facebook. As your Facebook Page grows bigger, so will the robust discussions between fans. You can ensure that your slice of Facebook remains open and honest by having a clear set of rules for page conduct. I’ve trialled and implemented a ‘three-strike’ system for community pages which ensures that fans always have the opportunity to reform their language or behaviour. One example of a company with a comprehensive set of ‘House Rules’ is Coca Cola.

Photo of Coca-Cola’s Facebook ‘House Rules’.
3. For businesses which feature adult content including alcohol consumption and partying, one handy tool to enforce is the age filter on your page. Using the drop down box in ‘Manage Permissions‘, you can tell Facebook whether your posts are suitable for users older then sixteen, or limit it to those eighteen and over.

4. Posting ability, posting visibility and and tagging ability allow you to define who can post to your timeline, who on Facebook those posts are visible to and which individuals can tag your brand in, or tag other people in your brands photos. To put the ‘social’ in ‘social media’, I would recommend that you allow anyone to post to your wall, but I personally prefer to disable your fans ability to upload or tag your brand in photos. It’s much easier to moderate your page when it isn’t bursting to the brim with spam.

5. On the horizon: If you find that you’re a business who receives large number of unwanted user-generated posts, it’s rumoured that pre-moderation functionality is on the horizon. As with the majority of Facebook platform changes, it seems that for the moment it has only been rolled out to a select group of users, but as it is implemented more widely, it should greatly assist moderators seeking to better control the flow of public comments.

Facebook photo courtesy of: 1000 Words /

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