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The law on social media marketing – part 5

The internet offers businesses huge potential to foster their advertising and image strategies for low financial outlay. It is therefore hardly surprising that many German businesses maintain online profiles to keep their brand fresh.

The law on social media marketing - contacting the fans © imageteam –
The law on social media marketing – contacting the fans © imageteam –

The law on social media marketing

Whether businesses use Facebook fan pages, blogs or Twitter, the possibilities are limitless. Or are they?

This series presents an overview of the steps which businesses can take to ensure their social media marketing strategies remain legal.

Part 5 – Contacting the fans

Once a business has set up a profile on a social network, the next step is to secure a steady flow of visits to the website.

This can be done by simply sending a wave of contact requests – or so some think! However, the legal position is not quite that simple.

Internet advertising

Under § 7 of Germany’s Unfair Competition Act advertisements can only be sent to those individuals who have consented to receiving them. This is applies in the same manner to internet advertising as it does to snail mail.

A business is therefore not permitted to send unsolicited contact requests, messages or tweets. It is also considered a “non-permissible nuisance” if contact information, which has been collected in some other way, is imported into a social network so that users become aware of the existence of the site.

Product recommendations

Aspects which, under strict circumstances, are permitted include the “tell-a-friend” option and the “recommend-this-product” button.

These options enable your fans to recommend your business to their friends. However, it is important to ensure that such recommendations contain no further advertising content. This is because, as stated by the Higher Regional Court of Nuremberg, personal data may not be used for purposes beyond those for which consent has been obtained (Az. 3 U 1048/05).

We therefore suggest that you make sure it is abundantly clear that any messages are received as recommendations from friends and that no premium has been paid for the product having been recommended.

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