7 Crucial Legal Considerations for Your Social Media Marketing
Social media is the hot topic of marketing circles, but as with any channel it comes with some specific legal limitations all of its own.
Businesses can quickly be caught out on these when the new platforms are eagerly adopted without thought for the legal requirements that come with them.
The legal side of marketing is easily overlooked. This is particularly true of small business, where your budget tends to be smaller and resource scan quickly get spread thin.
That being said, it’s vital to have a handle on the law and understand the ‘fine print’ that a foray into each new social network brings. A little effort to do this up front can save a lot of time untangling a legal mess later, ensuring that your company isn't taken to the cleaners just because of some simple law that you missed.
7 Legal Considerations for Social Media Marketing
Before jumping into any legal quagmire that comes of social media marketing – or even to simply review the point your business has reached right now – don't forget to take these considerations into account:
- Take some time to learn the advertising and intellectual property laws that surround your industry and could apply to social media. This introductory presentation will give you a handy place to begin.
- Think about setting up a team to ensure that other employees also comprehend the legal requirements of social in your industry. This team could also be used to drive social media development and other initiatives that work to ensure legal compliance.
- Understand - and educate others - that what you do and what you say across social media can be found and viewed by everyone. Even those private networks that promise to protect what you post are vulnerable to leaks that go public, whether screen shotsbeing shared or a full blown media story.With that in mind your company should adopt communication policies that all employees can follow, and which will not drag the business down should individuals make a mistake.
- Find tools that help you to sidestep any legal issues, such as third-party programs that will check for duplicate content or site plug-ins that serve up links and media that are free for anyone to use.
- Set policies for the use of content under copyright across your social media and the employees who will be using them. Educate them about usage rights, from licensing from rightholders to more open systems like Creative Commons.
- Consider the limitations of certain platforms and understand the legal requirements of each social network. Generally the same rules govern conduct across social media for marketers, but it's important to stay on top of what your main social networks do and do not allow so that your investment in them, be it time or money, isn't wasted by losing your account.
- Present and communicate your company's activity in a way that complies fully with the law in areas such as product/service descriptions, contests and sweepstakes, loyalty programs and so on.
Breaking the law in social media marketing can be anything from a minor irritation to a full blown PR crisis, which are embarrassing and expensive.
Be sure to put systems, people and processes in place that will monitor the legal side of how your social media and marketing team operate. A combination of pre-prepared policies and ongoing common sense can help to avoid the more costly issues that we read about every week.
(Note: This post is intended as guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. To ensure full compliance with social media marketing legal requirements, please contact a legal professional.)
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