How to deal with the legal implications of employees using social media

 

Using social media has a lot of benefits (connecting with people, getting your business brand recognised and attracting new business) but like all good things (chocolate, alcohol, holidays and surprise gifts) there are also some negatives.

 

Social media moves very quickly in real time and you can get swept along and write things which, if you gave them some thought probably would not have typed. You’re also in a virtual environment which can feel personal and full of “friends” and “followers” but all your connections are normally with people that you don’t know very well. It’s also permanent – most of the time (with few exceptions) you can’t undo what’s been done.

 

Whilst there are lots of legal implications to using social media let’s look at employers’ potential concerns when employees use their businesses social media accounts.

 

(1) Social Media Strategy

Make sure that your employees know your business strategy and marketing plan and that you have a comprehensive social media policy in place. You want to avoid any employee potential for talking about your clients/customers and breaching confidentiality or, even worse, talking about someone in a derogatory manner. Don’t forget to put some training (and updating) in place.

 

You will have to accept that no matter how good your policy is there will inevitably be a few issues along the way. Think about retweeting which may seem harmless enough, after all, you’re not the one actually saying it, just passing it on. Not true – retweeting is saying it all over again – think about those playground chants where everyone shouts something about one child and it becomes mob bullying.

 

As an employer you are vicariously liable for what your employee does at work unless you can prove that it was not part of their employment and was on a “frolic of his own” and it was not part of his employment. Hard to do when you have placed them in charge of your business’ social media and just told them to get noticed.

 

(2)  Social Media Crisis Management Plan

So, accept that problems can happen and have plans in place to manage them. For example, an employee may say something that breaches confidentiality or could damage someone’s reputation.

 

Without a Social Media Crisis Management Plan you will have to think quickly what to do. So do you

–         ignore it and hope it gets buried?

–         try and explain what was said and why it was said?

–         apologise and get it over with?

Having a Media Crisis Management Plan will allow you to think about potential scenarios and how to deal with them at a point when you are not under massive pressure and avoids you having to make a snap decision which could cost you thousands of pounds in damages.

 

As an employer take advice to get your Social Media Policy and Social Media Crisis Management Plan in place. We can help, both in the planning stage with all the documents you need and advice if the worst has happened already. Just contact Law Hound at theteam@lawhound.co.uk, phone us for a free chat about your issues on 01244 300413

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