Entertainment & Intellectual Property Law

Social Media Policies: Best Practices for Protecting Your Company’s Brand

When a social networker identifies himself as an employee of an organization, he becomes a representative of the company.  From then on, the employee’s social media posts reflect on the company and the company’s public image.  An employee enjoys the right to free speech, but not the right to defame or slander his employer, post confidential or proprietary information, or violate the right of privacy of others.  A social media policy is designed to protect an organization against these and other risks.  A well-crafted policy should help the organization achieve its marketing strategy, but also protect against lawsuits, reputational harm and security or confidentiality breaches.

BEST PRACTICES

Here are some tips to keep in mind when developing a company’s social media policy.

DON’T be overly broad in the policy restraints.  Instead, tailor the social media policy to specific work hours, employer-provided equipment and work-related content.

DO prohibit comments that are vulgar, obscene and harassing.  Employers should prohibit comments about co-workers or supervisors that are vulgar, obscene, threatening, intimidating, harassing or a violation of the employer’s workplace policies against discrimination and harassment.  Remember, an employer cannot simply protect against “negative” comments, the language must be limited to comments deemed obscene or harassing.

A social media policy can violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) where it is so ambiguous that an employee could reasonably construe it to prohibit activity protected by the NLRA.  Protected activity includes discussing the terms and conditions of employment, such as wages, with co-workers, while prohibited activities include remarks that disparage the employer or its products or recklessly false accusations.

DO require employees to include a disclaimer when expressing their views on social networking sites, such as “The views expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of [Employer].”

DO prohibit disclosure of Employer’s proprietary or confidential information.  Companies must take care to ensure employees do not post unauthorized statements, endorsements or product claims.

DO NOT forget to notify and train employees on the company’s social media policy.  All of the planning and preparation will be for naught if the policy is not properly implemented.

For more information, contact The Law Firm of Stacey A. Davis at sdavis@staceydavislaw.com or www.staceydavislaw.com