Social Media Law

The law on social media marketing – part 6

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 - online advertising © HaywireMedia – Fotolia.de

The law on social media marketing – online advertising © HaywireMedia – fotolia.de

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 6 – Online advertising

Advertising plays a large part in many business marketing strategies. For those who wish to advertise on social networks, it is important to abide by the relevant platform’s policy.

Social networks

Goolge+ policy, for example, is to not permit “contests, sweepstakes, offers, coupons or other such promotions” to be run directly on a Google+ page. However, links to external pages are permitted.

Facebook, on the hand, generally permits the display of such promotions or offers, but has strict rules as to the position, design and content. Paid status reports and advertising using a profile picture are taboo. In addition, advertising should always be positioned in the foreseen spaces.

Facebook does permit competitions, but only under strict circumstances. In accordance with Facebook’s terms competitions cannot be directly linked to site. Instead, they must be hosted on external servers and cannot utilise Facebook functions.

Many social networks also restrict the content which may be published. For example, many operators forbid the publishing of erotic images.

The law

Businesses should always be mindful of the application of general legal provisions, such as the rules on transparency. These require advertising to be clearly identifiable as such (§ 6 German Telemedia Act, § 4(3) German Unfair Competition Act).

Unfounded comparative advertising should be avoided. But factual comparisons based on examinable factors are generally permitted.

Nevertheless it should be remembered that the advantage and disadvantage of the internet is that anybody can access content. As a result, it is easy for competitors to monitor your advertising strategy and to send a warning letter if you get it wrong.

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Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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