Social media training is essential for any employer who wants his or her staff to help a business' online presence to thrive.
But there's more to this training than just making sure your employees know how to log on to Facebook and Twitter -- there are a few legal points you'll want to cover as well.
If you're unsure where to start, try these five legal topics on social media to cover with your staff:
- Who owns your social media accounts? Pop quiz: Who owns your employees' social media accounts? If you don't know, your employees won't either. You need to impress upon your employees that the business owns their business Twitter accounts, including all followers. You can more easily police an account that you own, especially if your social media staff decide to quit.
- What to do with strange links? Phishing scams can topple even the most respected businesses as long as just one employee is improperly trained. Some employers may try to test this training by sending fake phishing emails, but you may not want to constantly "game" your employees.
- Sponsored posts and FTC disclosures. If your business has been paid to endorse a product, any tweets or Facebook posts stemming from that paid endorsement need an FTC disclosure. Something like "This is a paid advertisement" or "Company X is sponsored by Company Y" may suffice for your needs, but you need to make sure your employees know to include the disclosure. This can get tricky when a business holds social media contests.
- What's "protected speech" on social media? You can bar employees from using social media at work. You can even prohibit them from Facebooking or tweeting about the business -- but you need to carve out an exception for protected speech. If employees want to use Facebook or Twitter to converse with other employees about the company (e.g., about their salaries), your social media policy should be flexible to this kind of speech. A more absolute ban may be a violation of federal labor laws.
- Are social media disclaimers effective? The "my opinions are my own" disclaimer in an employee's Twitter info has very little legal effect. They do not immunize your business for suits based on offensive employee tweets, and they will not stop you from firing the culprit of such a tweet.
Be diligent with your company's social media training, and your employees should be less likely to make an online marketing blunder.
- Need legal advice on how your small business should operate? Consult with an experienced business attorney about your options.
- NLRB: Social Media Policy Can't Be Too Restrictive (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- OK to Fire an Employee Over Tweets? (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- Can 'Social Media Insurance' Protect Your Business? (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- Workplace-Access Policy Needs a Section 7 Exception: NLRB (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)