With social media, so many avenues of engagement and communication with clients are opened up. Social media includes blogging, and it is one of the biggest online sources of copyright violation. Blogging also falls under certain endorsement laws for products most have no idea about. Coming up with a social media policy for the protection of your employees and business is thus imperative. To help you come up with one, there are a number of considerations you should have in mind.
This also comes with a level of risk and a need for a social media policy. A good example is the fact that employees could be accessing social networks at work or posting things about the business on social media. Employees could also be slamming your competitors, and in some cases, infringing on copyright through posting user-generated images and content without any permission. One of the most important things is ensuring confidential information about the company is not being released.
Social Media for Your Small Business
The first place to start is with the firm’s employees. While you might allow them to access social networks at work, you have a choice to limit or control access. The law offers some guidance on the things you could restrict your workers from engaging in. With tablets, smart phones, and PCs providing access from just about anywhere, blocking employees from accessing social media might be difficult. Nonetheless, come up with a clear social media policy on instances when social media should be accessed while at work and whether employees will face any punishment if they abuse the laid out code of conduct.
In case you intend to permit social media access, make sure the policy guidelines developed outline your expectations on the area of sharing proprietary and confidential company information such as documents, videos, and photos. Since the laws are constantly changing, work with an attorney to certify you are complying with local, state, and federal laws on employment and social media.
Social Media & the Law
Social channels such as sharing images sites, social networking sites, and blogs are areas where intellectual property infringements take place. This is why your policy should detail the information that can or cannot be posted online by workers sharing on behalf of the company. For instance, if your company administrator on Facebook wants to use the product image of a manufacturer, confirm you have written permission from the manufacturer before posting, unless permission was granted beforehand.
Many small business owners reach social media administrators and bloggers to solicit endorsements, mentions, or reviews. Federal Trade Commission understands businesses offer freebies, cash, and other compensations to get these reviews and requires that the endorser clearly indicates in the post the mention, or review, was received in exchange with some form of compensation or fee. Also, if an employee has to promote a service or product on their blog or social network, disclosing any affiliation with your company is mandatory.
The most important thing in any social media policy is that it does not have to appear like a legal piece of writing. It should outline in simple terms how a company and its workers should be represented on social media. These policies will include how and when employees are to use social media, how to come up with a unique social media tone, and reminders that intellectual properties and customer service guidelines have to be respected, among others.
Expectations for respectful and courteous engagement on social media from the subscribers and followers can also be added in the social media policy, which is a great defense in case some offensive posts have to be removed.
At Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, we understand the challenges of dealing with legal issues for your business and we are here to help. Give us a call and we will be happy to answer all your questions. Call us today at (414) 273-1144.