New Zealand advertisers have averted the need for regulation of commercial messages on Facebook and Twitter.

The Advertising Standards Authority has issued guidelines short of a formal code for social media.

The move aims to make advertisers aware of potential issues regarding social media and head off complaints like those decisions against social media advertisers for VB Australia and Nike in the UK.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau, which represents online advertisers, contributed to the new guidelines effective from January 1 which will cover Facebook, Twitter and all social media.


But the clearest change of rules will be for Twitter users and advice that people who are paid to tweet should declare their affiliation.

The guidelines say that from January 1 they will have to add the hashtag #ad - making it clear the tweets are advertisements and subject to the ASA jurisdiction.

ASA chief executive Hilary Souter said everybody who received money from advertisers was not obliged to include the hashtag #ad.

"It's not black and white," she said.

There had been no complaints about undeclared advertising on social media in this country.

IAB general manager Alisa Higgins and leading social media consultant Michael Carney said they could not estimate the amount paid for tweeting but that it was widespread in New Zealand.

The chief executive of the Association of New Zealand advertisers, Lindsay Mouat, said the guidelines made it clearer for advertisers paying someone to endorse brands. "That is something that has tripped up some advertisers internationally."