The importance of utilizing social media to help any business grow cannot be understated. But , there may be serious legal consequences for companies when their employees or affiliate marketers and marketers use any of the popular social media forums. This can hold real both when employees are acting on behalf of your business and when each uses social media for their personal use. Clever business owners identify the problems ahead of time and then devise a strategy to prevent unnecessary legal responsibility and address risks when they become known. Of course , that strategy should start with an appropriate social media policy. However many businesses draft social media guidelines which do not address all the potential concerns it should, or even draft guidelines in a manner which renders all of them illegal!
So , how can you ensure your own business’s social media policy isn’t a dud? First, you must understand what could get it wrong in social media.
What Could Make a mistake For My Business In Social media marketing?
Here is a broad list of legal problems your business may face relating to social media:
-Employees who reveal confidential or even proprietary information in a blog admittance that can be viewed by millions of readers;
-Employees who post discriminatory or even negative comments on social media relating to your business or other employees;
-Employees who post objectionable content on the Facebook pages that raises into issue their character, which in turn reflects on the business; or
-Employees, affiliates as well as other sponsored endorsers can even subject their own employers to liability by advertising the company’s services or products without disclosing the employment relationship. This is otherwise known as a sponsored endorsement in legal parlance. The FTC has made it crystal clear that any “material connections” between your endorser and the sponsor must be revealed in connection with a product or service validation, which is defined as any type of positive review. Sponsored endorsers can also potentially generate liability for your business through any kind of deceptive claims made about any kind of products or services offered by your business.
Why The Social Media Policy Can Protect Your company
If you have employees or use any type of third-party marketers or affiliates, you should adopt a written social media plan. Though not an absolute shield through liability, businesses must adopt social networking use policies protecting the employer in line with the company’s organizational culture. Not only can these policies serve as a strong deterrent to employees, they can be uses as the basis of terminating employees and affiliates or other third-parties.
But , What Should Your Company Social Media Plan Really Say (Or Not Say)?
Of course , your company’s social media plan should make clear to employees what the employer expects with regard to social media use, both on and off the job. These objectives may vary between companies, but companies should generally be concerned with rules against conduct that may result in unlawful sexual harassment or other legal responsibility, rules prohibiting disclosure of private or proprietary information, and corporation policies governing the use of corporate trademarks and other branding concerns when involved in social media use. I’ll go into further details about what your policy ought to say below.
But , the problem every single employer must understand with employee social media use is that the individual’s actions may be legally protected. Some claims, for example , have laws protecting employees’ off-duty activities and political routines or affiliations. At the Federal level, the National Labor Relations Act protects employees who engage in “concerted activity, ” which often includes the best to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with co-workers and outsiders. If your social media policy has not been updated in the last two years, the policy is likely to be out of compliance with the guidance provided by the National Labor Relations Board recently. In addition , federal and state whistle-blower laws protect employees who make a complaint about (among other things) possible securities fraud violations, in certain circumstances.
Some practical plus basic guidelines you should include in any kind of social media policy are listed below. I personally use the term “employees” to refer to workers, affiliates and all other sponsored endorsers.
-Employment Rules and Company Code of Conduct
Require that workers always follow the terms of their employment agreement, employee handbook or some other company code of conduct all the time when using social media (obviously this simply applies to employees). The social media plan should restrict employees from violating the terms of any company plan via social media use for work or personal purposes.
-Broad Make use of Statement
You should state that the plan applies to all forms of social media, including multi-media (videos, posts or sound recordings), social networking sites, blogs, pod-casts, sharing sites and wikis plus covers both professional and personal use.
Employees should not disclose any information that is confidential or proprietary towards the company or to any third-party. What happens if you have a new product or software application within development that you want to keep confidential? What about financial and other non-public information? There are a million reasons to post rules prohibiting disclosure of confidential or amazing information on social media sites. The best exercise is to define what comprises “confidential” and proprietary information and other trade secrets similar to a non-disclosure agreement and restrict disclosure. This limitation should include personal use and make use of on company owned sites. Yet be specific. Rather thanbanning any disclosure of confidential information, end up being specific about exactly what cannot be revealed (such as trade secrets, client information, business strategies, etc . ).
-Endorsements & Affiliation
If a worker comments on any aspect of the company’s business they must clearly identify on their own as an employee and include a please note.
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Employees should neither claim neither imply that they are speaking on the industry’s behalf unless they are expressly certified to do so. For example , you should require each employee to use the language “any sights expressed are personal opinions , nor necessarily reflect the views or opinions of ABC Corp. inch
All sponsored endorsers must not make any misleading or deceptive ads or claims regarding your products. All content must be accurate and truthful. Since you are simply as responsible as any sponsored endorser would be, you need to have a clear policy on what deceptive advertising is and limit such claims. In fact , any employee, affiliate, etc . you allow to publish or promote on behalf of your business really should truly understand what is deceptive below FTC and state consumer safety laws. Your social media policy ought to restrict your company’s bloggers or product reviewers, affiliates and internet marketers against making such claim as well as the policy should be incorporated in the individual agreements used with any affiliates and independent marketers.
-Intellectual Property and Brand Dilution
Restrict your employees from including any company logos or trademarks on their own personal blogs or even Facebook pages unless permission is granted. Similarly, they should not be allowed to upload or paste these marks onto any other interactive forum. Clearly communicate the company’s expectations and offer examples of scenarios that are acceptable and include an accepted description of the company’s brand. Inform you that individuals who link online details with the company and disclose their particular employment also incorporate the authorized language into their online profiles. A policy that includes the positive can help to build promoters for the brand. Trust your employees to drive responsibly if you give them the rules of the road. You should restrict employees from posting unauthorized ‘promos’ that purport to represent the company with no pre-approval.