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Social Association #3: making it official

Protect your Brand reputation and manage your Company’s liability with a clear Corporate Social Media Policy and educate your staff in general Social Media conduct. The third instalment in our blog-series on Social Media law, written by Denis Warren-Tangney of Warren-Tangney Attorneys and Mediators.

The importance of a Social Media Policy

There are two very good reasons why your company should have a social media policy:

1. To protect your company’s brand and reputation – employees are inevitably associated with your company (the more senior the employee the closer the link to the company), what they say may damage your company’s brand and/or reputation.

2. To manage your company’s liability – it is impossible to control what your employees say on Social Media, but you can be vicariously liable for what they have said. This risk can only be limited by having a Social Media Policy in place.

The consequences of an employees post on Social Media can be very severe, for both the employer and the employee which is why it is important for companies to have Social Media policies designed to clearly set out the employers’ expectations for appropriate behaviour to limit the company’s exposure to legal problems and public embarrassment.

When an employee gets into hot water for posts they submitted on Social Media it is not just the employees that get into trouble but the employers who suffer as much if not more for the actions of their employees.

The Council for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration “CCMA” has made rulings on more than one occasion in favour of employers who have dismissed employees as a result of Social Media posts.

What should be contained in a Social Media Policy
  • Make it clear who is authorised to speak on behalf of your company in the media and on Social Media platforms.
  • Protect the confidentiality of your company’s information, including trade secrets and client information.
  • Regulate the use of your company’s trademarks and or letterheads.
  • Clearly state what the company deems acceptable methods for business communications. Social Media should not be used for business communications between employees, or employees and clients. Using Social Media for business communications blurs the line between business and personal.
  • Provide guidelines for participation in Social Media (what is your company’s values and how do you expect your employees to behave) this includes moral and social standards.
  • Educate your employees about the risks of:
    – posting defamatory statements;
    – copyright infringements;
    – anti-competitive comments; and
    – discriminatory or offending posts.

– By Denis Warren-Tangney, BProc LLB.
Warren-Tangney Attorneys and Mediators.

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