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Do You Need a Lawyer to Draft Your Social Media Policy?

April 3, 2010

[tweetmeme]I met someone from a large corporate this week who didn’t see the need to have a lawyer involved in the development of their social media policy. What interested me was that they were from a large Australian corporate with a team dedicated to social media within their marketing/sales department. At first I was astonished and then after thinking about it thought that perhaps this was a general perception. After all, just about anyone can be a social media expert these days and there are many good examples of social media policies on the internet that can be adapted to suit your own environment.

Not only that but social media is seen to be the domain of the sales and marketing or communications area within a company, so the drafting of a social media policy is a lot about developing a strategy protecting company image or projecting a uniform message rather than risk management.

So, do you need a lawyer involved in the development of your social media policy?

Well, it really comes down to a business protection issue.

Firstly, you need to be able to have some control over the content that employees are allowed to put on the various social media outlets concerning the business.

Any comment/post that paints the company in a poor light or discloses confidential information about hiring/firing/strategy is damaging and employees should be informed through a properly drafted policy of what their obligations are and the potential problems for them if they breach the policy.  Identifying these issues and drafting the policy to protect the business is where the lawyer comes in. Different businesses may also face different issues with the use of social media. For example, I would refer to the excellent article regarding the use of social media when recruiting; particularly if you’re an HR company.

For a policy to be effective you need to be able to have recourse to it in case of a breach – to be absolutely sure that you do have effective recourse to take action over a breach of your social media policy I would strongly advise you get some legal expertise involved at the drafting stage. A good social media lawyer can put you accross all the potential issues and really assist with business protection.

I would be really interested in what others think about the need for legal advice when developing a social media policy?

For more information on Social Media Policies please contact legal expert Andrew Bland or visit BlandsLaw’s website http://www.blandslaw.com.au/

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