11 tips for crafting a social media policy

How to manage legal risks while promoting your brand

Social media is taking the world by storm, and for businesses, this means their employees are using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a host of other social media services. In addition, for many companies, social media is becoming an important business tool with many potential benefits, the most common example being low-cost marketing, but with a multitude of other creative uses developing rapidly. However, the personal and business uses of social media are attended by substantial risks that are varied, numerous and of potentially great consequence.

Accordingly, it is critical that organizations put in place policies controlling or at least influencing social media use. Although even comprehensive policies that are effectively monitored and enforced cannot ensure protection from every potential risk, this reality does suggest that establishing social media policies is an exercise in futility. Most employees will do their best to make a good-faith effort at compliance, especially when they are reminded of the consequences of noncompliance. Furthermore, in many legal and regulatory contexts, the company’s good-faith policies can minimize the imputation of rogue employee behavior to the company.

Here are some of the must-haves in a comprehensive corporate social media policy:

1. Introduction and explanation. Not all employees are users of or even familiar with social media. Accordingly, an explanation of the policy subject matter is in order with some context on the social media phenomenon.

6. Emphasize personal and corporate consequences. Remind employees that apart from the risk their social media activities could pose to the company and the internal compliance discipline they could face, they may have personal legal liability for actions that have created liability exposure through social media.

7. Reiterate intellectual property and confidentiality concerns. Early in the history of the Internet, we learned that it has a unique ability to facilitate IP infringement as well as speed the distribution of previously confidential information. Companies should emphasize that the ease of information transfer through social media amplifies this danger.

Contributing Author

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Adam Cohen

Adam Cohen is Managing Director at Berkley Research Group and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and former practicing attorney who for more than 20 years...

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