Decide who owns your social media content


Incorporating social media into your marketing mix may seem like the norm nowadays, but so much activity has led to increased attention when it comes to legal credentials. High profile cases like that of Lord Alistair McAlpine have left 3 pertinent concerns with marketers.


Who takes responsibility?

“You started it” may have been the perfect excuse when you were a child but it just isn’t going to cut it when you get into trouble with the law. An employer can be vicariously liable, as in by extension, for their employees’ actions in the case of harassment or bullying against another member of staff, or defamation of a person’s character without evidence. These policies do apply to social media when offensive comments are posted on the Internet too.

That said, no laws are currently in place to police this. Instead employers are forced to rely on existing legislation and regulations, which means that you need to take an interest. Disclaimers detailing the ins and outs of a company’s confidential information and intellectual properties can be a help but they can also be a hindrance – regularly update your social media policy to make sure that you aren’t shooting yourself in the foot!


Who maintains confidentiality?

Confidentiality has always been a hot topic but it is very important when you are working online, and particularly in social media. You may well have a clause in the company handbook to make sure that all employees are aware of company policy regarding sharing information; the problem is that it’s so easy to do online. In fact, it may not even be your confidential information that is at risk. What about that of your customers or clients?

The Data Protection Act 1998 is in place to safeguard the personal information that is shared with your company, and to protect your company in general. All data has to be processed fairly, in line with the rights of the individual and should only be stored for as long as is necessary… 3 out of 5 businesses are not confident that data on social media networks is protected. How confident are you?


Who owns the profile?

It is not unusual for a company to appoint someone to manage their social media campaigns. This could mean that a member of staff may well be adding considerable commercial value to the business, and that they may feel protective or even possessive of the content that they generate. 

A company must have an Internet or a social media policy in place to deter and protect against this. It should ideally have a clause built into employee contracts with explicit guidelines detailing ownership of the social network profiles themselves, as well as the content that is created or shared on them.

Improper use of social media should be dealt with as though it was any other disciplinary offence, and employees should be aware of this. A company should also monitor what is being said and posted online under its name. For instance, have all photo and video files been granted permission to be used by the copyright holders? If you don’t know, you need to find out!


Image courtesy of © grasycho

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