Social Media For Businesses – from a Lawyer’s perspective

The old cliché of lawyers being risk averse is true…of most lawyers. But find a lawyer that is more of a businessman (or woman), who views the law as a vehicle for driving their own business forward, who recognises the need and importance of keeping up with the times, the importance of change and the importance of marketing and social media, and you would have sourced a very important business ally.

Pinder Reaux and the legal team that make up this business have earned the reputation of being strong, strategic lawyers that recognise and align themselves with their clients’ needs because of a real understanding of tangible business needs.

But as a lawyer and one that has established myself as the Managing Director of a successful company that has built a reputation for being one of the leading social media and internet law firms in the world, what I can do is tell you a few do’s and don’ts about utilising social media in the work place.

Without a shadow of a doubt, social media is a great marketing tool: one which I and my team regularly use. Your business is probably using it too, or at least thinking about joining the digital revolution that is social media. Taking the right steps to protect yourself and your business in this growing technological area is vital and this is where I can help you.

Social media marketing comes with responsibilities and rules that you have to adhere to in order to avoid walking headfirst in to problems. However, the law relating to social media is still evolving and many regulatory agencies are still trying to figure out how to apply traditional rules to this new media. As companies and businesses increasingly integrate social media platforms into their business models, new, previously unforeseen and uncontemplated legal issues are arising. To minimise your exposure to such issues there are certain steps you must take.

Primarily, it is essential that you have a clearly defined social media policy, which applies to all levels of your work force. Essentially this policy will set out in detail how social media is to be used SOLELY for purpose and benefit of your business. The hotly debated issue of who owns the Twitter account: employer or employee, should be clearly specified as well as other important issues such as the non-disclosure of confidential information about you, the business, your clients or any third party and the importance of not engaging in comments and conversations that could contain defamatory/harassing or unlawful comments.

If social media is being used to advertise and market products and services, you must adhere to the code set out by Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) and The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) as well as ensuring that any products that you are being paid to endorse are clearly identified as such.

Following on from this, the policy can also inform all members of your business of the importance of not tweeting or including in a post anything which might be protected by copyright or any other intellectual property protection. This includes all sorts of material, such as photos, pictures and articles.

The underlying approach to social media use is, and always will be, the application of common sense. Conversations on Twitter and other social media platforms have become very relaxed and conversationalist and the border between personal social use and business commercial use is often blurred.

With criminal and civil sanctions being applicable to both individuals and to the company, it is more important than ever to remain vigilant about your own content, and the content being placed in the social media ‘world’ by your employees. If in doubt: simply don’t tweet it, don’t blog it and don’t post it.

Our media law department can help draft and prepare your social media policy and provide your work force with training on the usage of social media for business: to protect them, you and your business.

Give us a call on 020 8252 7373 for more information.

Rupinder Bains

Managing Director

Pinder Reaux & Associates.