In the week where a UK High Court judge threw out a Google libel case launched by a former Conservative party hopeful, because there were no jurisdiction to try the claim; a survey has found that only fifty-four percent of UK businesses realise they hold legal liability for what is said in their social media marketing campaigns.
The research carried out by Iron Mountain Europe, not only found that only 54 percent of UK businesses were aware of the legal implications which surround social media. But the findings also reported that seventy-four percent of UK businesses have banned the use of social media within the work place.
A blanket ban of social media within the workplace, although will prevent businesses falling foul of any social media pitfalls, has the negative effect that it is preventing businesses from having access to a wealth of possibilities in terms of customer engagement, market awareness and audience reach.
The fear of falling foul of the social media pitfalls shouldn’t hold businesses back from entering the ever-growing and emerging world of social media. Instead, as social media marketing avenues and platforms continue to expand and alter businesses of all shapes and sizes should look to embrace the platforms which are relevant to them – and by taking a few simple precautions there is no reason why your online marketing campaign cannot blossom.
Whilst the law surrounding social media and internet technology may still be evolving, there are a few steps which firms can take to ensure they remain safe and take legal responsibility for what is broadcast via their social media platforms.
Within various blogs on the JE-Consulting website, we’ve discussed in the past the important of making sure your social media marketing campaign isn’t all “Me,Me,Me” – and instead insist on including relevant industry news within your updates.
Whilst we stick by the importance of doing this, it is also important to ensure that when doing so, you don’t attempt to pass off the information as your own, instead you should credit your sources where applicable.
Lifting the Blanket Ban:
For businesses looking to lift the blanket ban on social media use during work time, and for those businesses who are considering social media marketing for the first time; one of the main steps to take is to produce “Social Media Guidelines” which all employees are aware of.
The introduction of “Social Media Guidelines” prevents there from being any grey areas within the online marketing which could potentially prove to be a hazard later down the line – more information on why businesses need a social media policy and how to create on, can be found our earlier blog.
The second step that businesses who are lifting the blanket ban on social media, need to take / consider whether the responsibilities of looking after the business’ social media will be with an individual person / team or with management.
Whilst the High Court may have ruled in favour of Google in the latest defamation case, libel still remains an integral part of social media and the law which governs it.
As such, it is important to ensure that whoever is taking responsibility for the content being shared within your online marketing campaign, whether it’s pictures, video or written, is aware of what can and cannot be said via the platforms.
By the same accord, those carrying out the social media marketing campaign for businesses should also be keeping an active eye on what is being said about their business / brand, to ensure there are no libellous or defamatory statements being made.
Take Control; But Stay Flexible:
When we say “take control” we don’t necessarily mean that you have to be the person behind the tweet, status updates or blogs; after all we realise that whilst many are confident using social media platforms, there are an equal amount of business owners and managers who don’t understand the various platforms.
Instead, to take control we recommend creating professional accounts which are used for your company’s online marketing campaign, as this will help to draw a line under personal and professional usage.
As important as it is to take control of your social media campaign, to ensure that it is projecting the business, products and services in a positive, informative and engaging voice, it is also important to remain flexible via social media.
This form of marketing is still considered to be relatively new, and as such it is still evolving. As a result, it is important to make sure that your business incorporates policies which are flexible and can evolve with any relevant changes.
When talking about flexibility, this also extends to the language and demeanour in which you respond to comments, mentions, tweets, etc – each response should remain professional, whilst also personal to the respondent.
Whilst the steps briefly mentioned about will help prevent businesses using social media marketing from falling foul of various online marketing pitfalls; it is ultimately up to each individual / business to take responsibility for the messages they’re sharing via each platform.