Social Media Policies are Critical for Managing Online Legal Issues

    August 30, 2011

    Almost every major consumer product now invites customers to follow its product on Facebook or Twitter – but the explosion of social media can be a double-edged sword for businesses, warns Karen L. Stevenson of Buchalter Nemer on behalf of the ABA’s Business Law Section.

    When consumer complaints go viral, companies may find it hard to regain control of the message about their products. The near-universal access to social-networking media requires that companies and their legal counsel be proactive in evaluating current policies and developing strategies that allow their company to take advantage of the benefits of social media, and effectively navigate the special challenges that come with it.

    Best practices for managing legal issues and making effective use of social networking for your business include: (1) implementing a written policy on social media usage for employees and business units; (2) monitoring compliance with the policy; (3) be consistent in responding to policy violations; (4) clearly distinguishing rules for personal versus business use of social media that bears the company brand, trademarks, service marks, logos and product images; and (5) conducting periodic audits of your company’s social media postings to maintain standards and gather customer feedback.

    I had the pleasure of co-authoring the Social Media Guide for Lawyers along with the 2010-11 Meritas Leadership Institute that includes two sample policies for governing social media useful for employees and firms.

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