May 3, 2013
immediate future had the same question. Unfortunately there is no button on your keyboard that can give you the answer to all your legal questions. But, after researching how UK businesses approach their use of social media we were able to create a best practice guide to social media and the law.
Did we find out who is responsible for a company’s social media policy? Actually we found great discrepancy between respondents; the majority of UK businesses believe that Marketing (32.6%) is responsible, followed by Legal (27.7%) and finally HR (24.1%).
Tempting though it is to point the finger, we suggest a collaborative approach instead, where Marketing, HR, PR and Legal are involved in creating and maintaining your company’s social media policy. Cooperation is likelier to encourage a better understanding of the rules throughout the company and to avoid litigation in the future. There is, after all, strength in numbers and a regularly updated policy is the best protection against confusion in the office, and legal prosecution.
Also, take care that your policy applies to social media use outside of office hours, as the lines between ‘professional’ and ‘personal’ profiles can often become blurred. Joe Gordon, the first blogger in Britain to be dismissed for “bringing the company into disrepute” through comments on his personal site, experienced this firsthand in 2005.
Unfortunately, since no present laws relate exclusively to the use of social media, companies must be vigilant that the content they share online meets the regulations already set out in UK law. Similarly, there are no specifications on the way that your social media policy should be or who should write it. Create one that is in tune with your company mission and in keeping with your brand, and remember to cooperate with each other to achieve a balanced social media policy to protect you all.
This is the fifth in a series of posts dedicated to social media and the law best practice. Browse our blog to find out what Captain Jack Sparrow, Oscar Wilde and Gossip Girl can teach you about social media, or compare your knowledge with our simple checklist to copyright laws.