Your Social Media Plan: How to Avoid Legal Liability

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In today’s world, your marketing has to be about much more than just your product. In an increasingly smaller and more virtual world, marketing is becoming personal. A big part of this shift in the market is the new focus on social media presence, social media content, and social media marketing.

The ideal social media plan is one that succeeds in establishing your company’s brand and online personality. This is no easy task. Often, businesses are so focussed on getting their messaging and branding right, that they forget about another important part of this strategy: limiting legal liability and staying on the right side of social media law.

LawTrades can help. Here are 8 things to consider when developing your social media content to ensure that you avoid legal liability.

1. Liability for Defamation and/or Harassment

Your business’s social media content will inevitably be run by employees, contractors, or agencies who will have to use their discretion and creativity in establishing your social media presence. Interacting with customers and the public is a large part of social media marketing, after all.

However, it does come at a considerable risk: if your online presence is associated with, or expresses, unfair and untrue opinions about competitors or customers, you might be liable for defamation or even harassment. Apart from the legal liability implications, this does significant damage to your brand.

2. Copyright Infringement

Any image, original content, design, or visual element that is incorporated into your company’s online posts might be an instance of copyright infringement. This depends not only on the specific post, but also on the copyright rules of the different social media platforms that you use.

3. FTC Disclosures

In terms of the Federal Trade Commission Act, businesses can be held liable for any misleading or unsubstantiated marketing claims made online. This includes social media content, and reviews. For example: if someone affiliated with your company posts a review on social media without disclosing their connection with your business, you are in breach of the FTC Act.

4. Terms of Service

We are all guilty of occasionally accepting a website’s terms of service without carefully reading everything. This is a bad idea if you are doing it in your personal capacity, and potentially catastrophic if you are doing it on behalf of your company.

Did you know that you agree to indemnify Pinterest if they are sued because of content you post, for example? Get someone in your company to read all the terms of service agreements carefully before opening accounts on social media.

5. Backup for Your Intellectual Property

Speaking of terms of service, many social media platforms’ provide that they can shut down without any notice to you as a user. In such cases, you might lose all the intellectual property interests you had in your original content and posts. Be sure to keep backups of your social media marketing collateral.

6. User Generated Content

A large part of your online presence and interaction with the public will necessarily involve accepting comments and content generated by customers and competitors. You should have policies in place to prevent the submission of copyrighted material, and have a clear policy to deal with harassment and/or defamation in posts by users on platforms/discussion that you host. Unsolicited and harmful posts can cause significant brand damage, even when they do not result in legal liability.

7. Photographs and Videos

Visual content might create additional legal complexities. Do you have releases from everyone in a photo or video that you share? If not, you might be liable in a privacy legal claim. If you are using stock images, does your brand own that license, or a third party? All of these factors should be considered before you post visual content.

8. Social Media Contests

If you are hosting contests or offering prizes via social media contests, be sure to first verify that you are in compliance with gambling or lottery laws. If you are incorporating email or mobile marketing into such campaigns, you also need to consider the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Telemarketing Sales Rules as well.

Social Media: Have All Your Legal Questions Answered

At LawTrades, we offer legal coverage designed to help you pay less and run your business with confidence. Talk to a Legal Pro about your social media marketing strategy and its legal implications today.