October 6, 2022
Social media is an incredibly important tool for growing your business, and when used effectively it can give your business a real boost. However, it can also go horribly wrong - there have been a number of highly publicised PR disasters in recent years, resulting in reputational damage to those brands.
Certain regulations apply to prevent the dissemination of illegal or inappropriate information, and rules also exist to govern the use of social media for advertising and promotions.
There are a number of different scenarios in which social media may be used by your business:
So, how can you limit your potential risk when engaging with social media as a business?
When leveraging social media for the benefit of your company website, you'll need to tick off a few legal requirements before starting. Let's break these down.
Make sure to require users to actively agree to use the site in accordance with your terms - for example, by requiring them to tick a box to confirm they accept your terms.
Permitting users to post user-generated content is a particular risk area. Such content may infringe third-party IP, breach privacy rights, and be defamatory, obscene or offensive. As well as limiting your liability, ensure that your terms give you the right to remove content at your discretion.
If a person objects to information that has been posted, you may receive a ‘notice and take down’ request, where the owner of that information may request its ‘take down’ from your site. If you receive such a request, it’s a good idea to ask a lawyer to support you.
Be aware that most third-party sites have the right to use any intellectual property you upload. Consider including a watermark or other identifier on the content you share, where you wish to assert ownership.
Also bear in mind that you need permission to share content posted by third parties – users are often happy with a simple tag crediting them, but this is not always the case - if in doubt, check. If you are using stock images or music clips, purchase these from reputable sources, to ensure you have a valid licence for use.
If staff are updating social media on your behalf, ensure they are trained and kept up to date with regard to relevant law and how they can protect your brand and reputation. They need an understanding of:
An initial training session with a legal expert could be a good place to start, with refreshers scheduled as needed.
You should also consider implementing a social media policy to deal with staff members’ use of social media for both work purposes and their personal use during the working day. Staff must be informed if their personal use of social media may be monitored – this is a potentially contentious area, and you may wish to seek legal advice around the parameters of any monitoring.
Bloggers and influencers are under an obligation to disclose when they have been given an item for free or paid to promote it – you will have no doubt have seen stories and posts on social media with the word ‘AD’ displayed in the corner of the story or at the start of the post. If you pay a blogger or influencer, or provide free products for their review, you must remind them of their obligation to disclose this fact and then check their story/post to ensure they do so. You must also check to ensure they do not make any deceptive or misleading comments or any claims about the product that you cannot substantiate.
As you can tell, there's quite a lot to consider when tackling social media for your business. To simplify the process, we've put it all into one handy infographic. Luck you!
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