Is Your Social Media Policy Legal?

The explosion in social media in recent years has given companies of all shapes and sizes incredible new ways to interact with their customers, market themselves, and build communities. It’s been an extremely exciting time, but we must be careful not to get too carried away. Just as a savvy company can win new business through social networking, a single misstep can cost your business substantially.

Because of this fine balance, many companies have instituted social media policies outlining every aspect of the company’s strategy and what employees are allowed to post both officially and unofficially. While this is certainly a good thing to do, most of these policies are put together without careful consideration of the legal consequences, are unnecessarily restrictive, or dangerously broad. Creating an effective and legal social media policy for your business is a necessity it today’s world, and it requires careful research and testing to do so effectively.

Is Your Company's Social Media Policy Legal?

So where should a business start? Glen Gilmore’s book, Social Media Law for Business is an excellent reference. Written by a man who happens to be both a practicing attorney and a social media strategist, the book offers unique insight into what would otherwise be uncharted territory.

The interesting thing about Social Media Law for Business is that it is simultaneously a book of legal advice and social media strategy, with each half informing the other in important ways. While the subject matter can seem very dry on the surface, Gilmore with passion and experience, and keeps the book engaging from beginning to end.

So what will you learn in the book? It starts with a detailed discussion or creating a social media policy for your business, including where to look for resources, and potential landmines to avoid. This dovetails neatly into a chapter discussing hiring and recruiting. From here, the book branches into chapters highlighting specific topics ranging from running contests to understanding copyright and fair use. It concludes with a series of case studies, first with an entire chapter devoted to Nike, and then with another chapter highlighting a variety of other businesses.

Before I picked up this book, I was particularly interested in the chapter on copyright and fair use. As a content creator myself, I was extremely interested in both how I could use content I didn’t create, and how others could use content that I created. I had a very basic understanding of copyright and fair use – with a couple of misconceptions – but didn’t understand these concepts on a fundamental level. Social Media Law for Business made everything crystal clear, so much so that I wish anyone with a Facebook account would read at least this chapter before their next post.

If you run a business today, odds are you’re engaging in social media already. Do yourself a favor and make sure that you’re doing so in a way that avoids potentially ruinous legal repercussions. Learning the laws around social media can be time consuming and frustrating, but thankfully you have an excellent resource available in Glen Gilmore’s Social Media Law for Business. Pick up a copy today!

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