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Social media accounts have increased in value and function for large and small businesses to such an extent that even minor loopholes in online conduct can be troublesome for them.

The social media pages’ policies, terms and conditions are available to a large audience. If care is not taken in expressly defining them, anyone out of the blue could point finger and pose an ordeal to startups. Not just for outsiders; social media laws are also important in determining rights and ownership when business partners or employees part ways.

Small businesses are at even greater danger as they are easy to claim over and can’t significantly afford the expenses of fighting a lawsuit. The first thing small businesses should research and clearly lay out, when entering the realms of social media marketing are social media governance laws.

Below are some rules of thumb.

  1. Construct/Update Your Social Media Policy

Without a social media policy all your employees and customers are entitled to ruin or amend your brand image through an ill-perceived post or comment. This is the pivotal role a social media policy plays in reserving control of the brand page to you. It establishes the decree and bounds of your social media conduct.

In case you came up with a social media policy for your business web pages some years ago, it’s time you go review and update it. Recent years have seen quite a few changes in laws regarding employee use of social media.

Small businesses tend to grab social media policies from amongst the many available online. That’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do as long as you check that the policy is updated. Besides, it should meet the requirements of your organization and befit the regulations you are already following.

  1. Build a Social Media Playbook

A social media playbook is slightly different from social media policy. It’s a book for employees that provide guidelines on how to deal and respond to customers, what and what not to post to portray a brand image that in its entirety increases the brand demand. It’s best to add real life examples in a playbook.

  1. Adhere Completely to the Latest FTC’s Social Media Guidelines

The Federal Trade Commission, USA released a set of social media guidelines in 2015 that have got all businesses marketing and running through social media on their toes. Make sure your social media activities are based and proposed upon the following guidelines.

3.Adhere Completely to the Latest FTC’s Social Media Guidelines

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  • If you are running a contest on your social media profiles, the official rules must include a clear and proper disclosure.
  • Character limits will not be considered an argument against not using appropriate disclosure.
  • Buying paid Facebook likes through an authority which has no clue of your brand/business, or worse, through robots is strictly prohibited.
  • Incentivizing customers to write untrue reviews or making them own opinions that are not truly their own can be penalized. Likewise, customers and employees should not go around promoting brands they are unfamiliar with.
  • In case businesses do want to incentivize customers for writing reviews, they must be true and the writer must mention his relationship with the brand and any incentive provided.
  • For videos, a disclosure endorsement in the video description alone will not suffice. The disclosure should run through the start, middle, and/or end of the video depending on its length.

Along with this, hung a scary looking warning from FTC, which said, ‘We have given guidance. You are all on notice.’ Social media businesses, watch out!

  1. Keep Your Social Media Crisis Armor Handy

    Keep your Social Media Crisis Armor Handy

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Sorry to pop your bubble, but businesses are bound to have social media crisis at one point or another. A social media crisis can be explained as an issue that has been increased in hype or occurred over social media and can affect your business reputation through wordmongers.

To prevent putting your business in an unlawful, uncomfortable position, better assign and plan backup solutions to such problems.

  1. Specify Clearly if You’re Using Data from Users’ Apps

Mention in your terms and conditions that you are extracting and using data from other apps of the user to make his experience at your website more interactive and workable. If the user agrees (which they mostly do, without a second thought) well and good, but do clarify on your behalf.

Don’t extract unwanted data. Use only as much as is required for your website to function and remember user choices.

  1. Do Not Post Pictures of Employees or Customers Without Their Consent

If you wish to advertise a business event by posting lively pictures of everyone having a great time, make sure you have their consent down to each single person. Also, be sure to mention it in the description of the pictures.

However, it’s a relatively low risk compared to many others. It grows in severity only when the pictures are shared on multiple platforms.

  1. Be Super Careful With the Content You Post

Preferably, use short phrases and include links to websites you pulled out quotes, facts or information from. If any given content you posted is getting you in trouble, or worse, turning into a lawsuit, an effective way to deal with it is taking the content off, and apologizing/clarifying the stance and intent of your business.

Be Super Careful With the Content You Post

Image source: www.cartwrightking.co.uk

  1. Take Steps to Prevent Copyright Infringement

  • Your business is just the owner of the work your paid employees create for it.
  • You don’t own the work of freelancers, unless you are bound in an agreement that specifies your business as the owner.
  • Furthermore, your business does not own licensed work, either. Your business is only allowed to use it in a very specific way that must be included in an agreement. Make sure you read and abide by that agreement.
  1. Specify the Right to User Data Archiving and Retention

If you are retaining and archiving user data and online conversations for future use, state it in your terms and conditions. Most businesses just disclose that they have the right to access user information. Users ought to know about their data retention as well, that is, if your business intends to do that.

  1. Assess and Audit Your Social Media Conduct Regularly

Last but definitely not the least, prevention is better than cure. Even with the strongest social media policy and team, you need to regularly check the social media activities associated with your business. Lethargy in social media profiles regulation can indeed be detrimental to your business reputation.

To conclude, there are many subtleties and nuances involved with social media laws and policies. To ensure your business is always safe and to avoid any legal hassles and lawsuits, it’s a good idea to consult a reliable branding agency.


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Author: Rachel Stinson

An avid reader and writer, love music and movies.

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