If you do not have a social media policy, your company could be at risk for defamation lawsuits, disclosure of proprietary information, intellectual property infringement and other unwanted lawsuits or issues that could harm your company’s image and brand, whether or not you are regularly engaged in it. By putting a policy into place, you are not only protecting your company, more importantly, you are putting your employees on notice of expected behaviors that should help avoid or curtail potential problems for your company.
Defamation lawsuits – Defamation lawsuits are on the rise as unhappy employees and customers post their “gripes” to the open world. A policy that prohibits employees from posting comments without a disclaimer that they are individual views and not company views can help a company avoid a defamation situation should an employee post comments that could be associated with your company.
Disclosure of proprietary information – Preventing its spread is very difficult once it hits the internet particularly if it goes viral. A social media policy should prohibit disclosure of confidential or proprietary information to prevent risk of its exposure.
Intellectual property infringement – Under current law, copyright and trademark holders can go after those who utilize copyrighted material and trademarks without permission. A social media policy should prohibit use of intellectual property of any type without explicit permission from the owner of the property for use.
Company image – Many businesses have been represented in negative ways by employees including company gossip, confidentialities, inappropriate pictures, client information and controversial comments. A social media policy should define what online behavior and language is acceptable from employees. Your employees represent your company by affiliation at all times, whether or not they are on the clock.
With the increasing benefits of social media to use as a tool for professional marketing and considering that social media is a consistent factor in many employee’s personal lives, it is crucial that companies have policies in place to manage and monitor what is being said and how their companies may be perceived. With a social media policy in place, if employees breach it, your business will be in a position legally to respond. Most companies put a lot of time, energy and money into building and promoting their brands, social media policies are an important part of protecting it.