Twitter is reaching out to entrepreneurs with a new interactive guide on how to make Twitter work -- and pay off -- for small businesses. This somewhat bubbly graphical walkthrough takes business owners with any level of Twitter-savvy and attempts to teach them a thing or two.
What Twitter leaves out of its helpful guide, however, are a couple of helpful legal tips.
That's where we come in. Here are three legal tips that all small business owners on Twitter should keep in mind:
1. Make Sure You Own Your Business' Twitter Account.
Super-jazzed that you just hired a social media manager for your company? Or maybe you've decided to outsource those tasks to an independent contractor. Either way, you need to make sure that your business actually owns the metaphorical keys to your Twitter kingdom, and not the peppy 23-year-old who's just dying to tell you about Instagram.
Why? Because the law isn't very clear-cut about who actually "owns" many business Twitter accounts. You'll need to be clear in any employee/contractor agreement that your business owns its Twitter account and all of its followers. Make sure you have control over your account's password, in case your social media staffer unexpectedly quits.
2. Educate Yourself and Your Team About Phishing.
If your first response was "what's phishing?" take a moment and read up on the basics. These scams can infect Twitter just as easily as email, and even large companies can be brought down by one click on a weird link.
Small business owners should train their employees on how to avoid phishing on Twitter. You don't need to go as far as sending fake phishing emails or tweets to test your crew, but it is an option.
3. Use Twitter Disclaimers and Disclosures Wisely.
There are two types of Twitter legal tags that your business is likely to run into:
- FTC disclosures. These will mostly include hashtags or posts that indicate a tweet is either endorsing a product or in some way sponsored by a company. If you have some sort of Twitter-related contest, make sure to instruct participants to use a hashtag which identifies your business and the contest.
- Employee disclaimers. Your employees may wish to include a "my opinions are my own" disclaimer in their Twitter profiles while also stating that they work for your company. Commend their good intentions, but firmly remind them you can legally fire them for tweeting anything inflammatory or damaging to the business.
Keep these tips in mind while perusing Twitter's new interactive guide, and check out FindLaw's Guide to Hiring if you're ready to bring on that new social media employee.
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- Why Facebook and Twitter are courting small businesses (Digiday)
- Top 3 Tips for a Business 'Twitter Party' (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- 10 Legal Tips for Small Businesses on Twitter (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- With Twitter Disclaimer, You Can Still Get Fired (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)