The significance of utilizing social media to help any business grow cannot be understated. But , there can be serious legal consequences for businesses when their employees or affiliates and marketers use any of the well-known social media forums. This can hold genuine both when employees are working on behalf of your business and when they use social media for their personal use. Clever business owners identify the problems ahead of time then devise a strategy to prevent unnecessary liability and address risks when they become known. Of course , that strategy ought with an appropriate social media policy. However many businesses draft social media guidelines which do not address all the possible concerns it should, or even draft plans in a manner which renders them illegal!
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So , how can you ensure your business’s social media policy isn’t a dud? First, you must understand what could fail in social media.
What Could Make a mistake For My Business In Social networking?
Here is a broad list of legal worries your business may face relating to social networking:
-Employees who reveal confidential or proprietary information in a blog access that can be viewed by millions of readers;
-Employees who post discriminatory or negative comments on social media regarding 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 and other sponsored endorsers can even subject their 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 clear that any “material connections” between the endorser and the sponsor must be disclosed in connection with a product or service endorsement, which is defined as any type of positive review. Sponsored endorsers can also potentially make 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 kind of third-party marketers or affiliates, you should adopt a written social media policy. Though not an absolute shield through liability, businesses must adopt social networking use policies protecting the employer consistent with the company’s organizational culture. Not only can these policies serve as a strong prevention to employees, they can be uses as the basis of terminating employees plus affiliates or other third-parties.
However What Should Your Company Social Media Policy Really Say (Or Not Say)?
Of course , your company’s social media policy 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 guidelines against conduct that may result in illegal sexual harassment or other responsibility, rules prohibiting disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, and company policies governing the use of corporate logos and other branding concerns when engaged in social media use. I’ll go into more specific details about what your policy ought to say below.
But , the problem every 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 activities or affiliations. At the Federal level, the National Labor Relations Work protects employees who engage in “concerted activity, ” which often includes the ideal 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 from compliance with the guidance provided by the particular National Labor Relations Board recently. In addition , federal and state whistle-blower laws protect employees who grumble about (among other things) possible securities fraud violations, in certain situations.
Some practical and basic guidelines you should include in any social media policy are listed below. I use the term “employees” to refer to employees, affiliates and all other sponsored endorsers.
-Employment Rules and Company Code of Conduct
Require that employees always follow the terms of their employment agreement, employee handbook or other company code of conduct at all times when using social media (obviously this simply applies to employees). The social media plan should restrict employees from violating the terms of any company policy via social media use for function or personal purposes.
-Broad Use Statement
You should state that the plan applies to all forms of social media, including multi-media (videos, posts or audio recordings), social networking sites, blogs, pod-casts, sharing sites and wikis and covers both professional and personal make use of.
Employees should not disclose any information that is confidential or proprietary to the company or to any third-party. What happens if you have a new product or software application in development that you want to keep confidential? What about financial and other non-public information? There is a million reasons to post rules barring disclosure of confidential or amazing information on social media sites. The best exercise is to define what comprises “confidential” and proprietary information and other industry secrets similar to a non-disclosure agreement and restrict disclosure. This restriction should include personal use and use on company owned sites. Yet be specific. Rather thanbanning any and all disclosure of confidential information, end up being specific about exactly what cannot be disclosed (such as trade secrets, client information, business strategies, etc . ).
-Endorsements & Affiliation
If an employee comments on any aspect of the company’s business they must clearly identify themselves as an employee and include a please note. Employees should neither claim neither imply that they are speaking on the company’s behalf unless they are expressly certified to do so. For example , you should require every employee to use the language “any views expressed are personal opinions , nor necessarily reflect the views or even opinions of ABC Corp. inch
All sponsored endorsers must not make any misleading or deceptive ads or claims about 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 which deceptive advertising is and restrict such claims. In fact , any employee, affiliate, etc . you allow to post or promote on behalf of your business really should truly understand what is deceptive under FTC and state consumer defense laws. Your social media policy ought to restrict your company’s bloggers or product reviewers, affiliates and marketing experts against making such claim as well as the policy should be incorporated in the separate agreements used with any affiliates plus independent marketers.
-Intellectual Property and Brand Dilution
Restrict your employees from including any company logos or even trademarks on their own personal blogs or even Facebook pages unless permission is granted. Similarly, they should not be allowed to add or paste these marks onto any other interactive forum. Clearly connect the company’s expectations and offer examples of scenarios that are acceptable and include an authorized description of the company’s brand. Inform you that individuals who link online details with the company and disclose their own 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 without having pre-approval.