What is Your Social Media Policy?

Contributed by: Haynes and Boone Companies are increasingly using social media to grow their businesses. But done improperly, companies face potential legal risks. They may, for example, inadvertently disclose confidential information or break the law by violating trademark laws on privacy rights. To reduce the risk of being sued or facing public relations nightmares, companies should have a well-drafted, consistently enforced social media to avoid improper online activity. Here are some first steps to consider:

Protect Your Brand. The old adage 'the best offense is a good defense' applies to online trademark protection. Monitor against brand misuse, impersonation or defamation that can destroy your brand identity and possibly sales. Just as companies can (and should) register their respective names and brands, companies should also affirmatively protect their user names online.

Protect Your Company From Itself. When it comes to social media, companies should be on the lookout for risks from the outside (like someone using your trademark) and within their own organization. Your employees' improper use of social media may alienate customers or create unwanted negative publicity. Worse still are the potential legal ramifications from inadvertent or unwanted online conduct such as lawsuits stemming from alleged violations of intellectual property rights, securities laws or from claims of defamation.

Need For a Social Media Policy. Consult with your lawyer to design a social media policy that sets the expectations and boundaries for employees. Make sure that your use of social media aligns with your traditional media communications. For example, just like a company designates its representative in press releases, it should carefully consider who is authorized to speak on its behalf and what that person is authorized to say in social media. Successful companies will evaluate their specific needs and concerns regarding the use of social media both internally and externally to ensure that their policy helps protect them from liability, while harnessing the positive and untapped potential of these emerging technologies.

Learn More About Social Media Policy and Legal Considerations at a panel discussion hosted by The Dallas Business Journal, welcoming back Eve Mayer Orsburn, CEO of Social Media Delivered and author of Social Media For The CEO to moderate a panel discussion with leaders who will share their expertise, their stories, best practices and answer questions about using social media to drive and meet business objectives.

Panelists include: Sashe Dimitroff, a partner with of Haynes and Boone, LLP, and Kathy O'Neal, Senior Vice President of Membership from Club Corp., and Erica Combe of The Boss Group.

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