Businesses are using social media more and more. Even small businesses have put time and effort into their social media profiles such as Facebook Pages, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. The legal implications of social media mandate you have strict marketing goals governed by clear company policies.

Businesses are wise to adopt a social media policy to outline corporate expectations and limits of acceptable social media use. Business law will continue to develop in this area. For now, here are five important issues you must consider when employees update your company social media profiles:

  1. Can your employee bind you to representations or offers made in a tweet exposing you to litigation later? When tweeting on a company account, is your employee an official representative when they disparage a competitor or leak confidential information of your customers?
  2. Does your YouTube video contain infringing material or violate privacy laws? What license do you have to use particular images, illustrations, or people?
  3. Does your business own the social media account your employee posts to? Who do the 9000 Twitter followers belong to?
  4. Are your trade secrets and trademarks protected? Or is your business losing valuable rights in its intellectual property?
  5. What expectation of privacy should employees have that use company social media accounts? Does it make a difference if updates come from the employer’s Twitter account or from the employee’s Facebook profile?

Creating a social media policy can help you avoid being blindly led off a cliff. Your company must establish the boundaries of acceptable company related communications. Policies should be implemented throughout your organization and uniformly enforced.

In the final analysis, educating your staff to the issues goes a long way in avoiding harm to company reputation, financial damage, and civil litigation.