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Tuesday 22 January 2013

7 steps to make your business compliant with social media laws.

Social media
Social media law is now touching on almost every aspect of business life. So far much of the conversation about social media and business has been about marketing and PR and little has been said about the implications of social media on internal business processes.

Many organisations are yet to revise their aging policies, outdated employment contracts and archaic privacy guidance to provide employees with clarity about their usage of social media.

There are 7 simple steps that you can take today to upgrade your organisation’s internal processes and to ensure compliance with social media laws:

Step 1: Amend the employee’s handbook to include your organisation’s vision and policies on the use of social media, outlining what employees can and cannot do both at home and at work. Consider for example the fact that in some cases personal tweets or blog posts by an employee, outside working hours, could still affect the reputation of your organisation and bring it into disrepute, or that you as an employer could be sued as a result of personal use of social media by an employee during working hours.

Step 2: Update employment contracts to provide you with the right to sanction an employee who brought the organisation into disrepute through social media.

Step 3: Create a clear copyright policy that addresses the use of images and videos on your company’s websites and blogs. Many people are not aware of the fact that you cannot just download images from the internet and make commercial use of them. Just because the material is online does not necessarily mean that it does not belong to anyone. Every time you place a copied image on your website, you open yourself up to major legal liabilities, to high legal costs and to embarrassment.

Step 4: Decide whether your employees should be allowed to represent your organisation through their personal social media. Consider that social media is made for people not for organisations and that in order to benefit from the marketing value of social media you need the personal engagement of your employees in it. On the other hand, if and when they leave you, your employees will take their personal contacts, friends and connections with them. Is this a risk worth taking? Perhaps, but this will be the subject of another post.

Step 5: Make sure that those who are in charge of Human Resources in your organisation are knowledgeable in the area of social media otherwise they will be less likely to identify issues or address them properly.

Step 6: Revise your organisation's privacy policies. With social media, employees might inadvertently share confidential information by a click of a button so you need to ensure that your policies give them sufficient guidance as to how to avoid making such mistakes. Compromising privacy could lead to serious legal issues.

Step 7: Pay attention to trading standards issues. You must not make promises that the product or service that you offer cannot deliver. Revise the organisation's website content and any “pay per click” or other internet advertising campaigns to ensure that the claims and offers made in the ads are truthful and accurate. Many organisations leave this task at the hands of their internet marketing people, who often are not familiar with or feel indifference about trading standard’s laws.

Follow these 7 simple steps and upgrade your business to become compliant with social media laws. Click here to read more advice about social media and businesses. 

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