My buddy and business partner in the UK, Peter van der Sluijs, finally launched his own social media presence recently (way to be late to the party, Peter) but is making up for it by posting some really interesting stuff. Specifically is the most recent post on the new regulations imposed by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority enforcing honesty on the web. It used to be that the ASA only monitored traditional advertising, but an extension of that power has given it the purview of web content as well, including commercial websites and social media. As Peter put it:
"Reputable businesses would want their advertising and PR to be ‘legal, decent, truthful and honest’ anyway, though it is possible to be caught out if you make claims you can’t back up. Common examples are phrases like ‘the world’s leading…‘ or ‘the top…’. If a complaint is made to the ASA (commonly by a competitor) you could be fined and made to amend the page if you can’t provide a basis for the claim."
The use of empty phrases to boost your corporate ego has long been a bugaboo for real PR professionals, but in the UK, at least, they have legal backing to tell clients, "if you can't prove it, you can't say it."
Think of all the companies that claim they can save customers time, money, design respins, etc. but have no real documentation of the claim. If they do business in the UK, they will no longer be able to copy and past content from competitors. They are actually going to have to do some real market research and benchmarks to make their claims true.
Makes me want to live in the UK.