Steps to establishing a company-wide social media legal policy

1) Outline the company’s goals
The first step in implementing a company social media legal policy is determining how the company would like to use social media in their business and what sort of uses they would like to see avoided.

There are many business uses for social media, which can include marketing, advertising, promotions, recruiting, customer interaction, and employee communication.

There are also many employee uses that companies may want to deter, such as disclosure of confidential information, brand misuses, disparagement of the company and general time wasting activities.

Once the uses are determined, a company can decide which sites, if any, the company would like to actively use.

2) Review the company’s existing policies.
The next step is to determine what policies the company already has in place, which may apply. It is not helpful for a company to have redundant or conflicting policies. It is better, instead, to reference existing policies and to supplement them and aggregate them, if necessary.

3) Draft the company’s policy.
A company’s written social media legal policy should be organized and clear. It should not be overly oppressive or aggressive either. For example, a policy which states that “No employee shall use social media to discuss company matters without prior approval” is overbroad and potentially illegal. Furthermore, it limits the positive impact of social media uses. The policy should also not conflict with the Terms & Conditions of the social media sites you intend to use. It should be forward looking and encompass potential uses (and misuses) of social media, so that it will not need frequent revision.

4) Dissemination and implementation.
Once a company has a formal policy they need to make employees aware of it and monitor (where possible) that they are following it. They should consider the legal issues surrounding improper dissemination and enforcement of the policy, such as First Amendment concerns, potential violations of the National Labor Relations Act and trademark dilution issues.

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