Social Media and IP : Part XI – Best Practices for Businesses
Social Media is an integral element of every business today, and no business can afford to ignore its relevance. From employee policies to business development, social media has a role to play in several business related activities. It is therefore important for companies to devise and follow legally acceptable standards and guidelines for handling business activities on social media.
This note outlines some best practices from the Intellectual Property, privacy and publicity perspectives.
- Devise and Implement a Social Media Policy
In this age of social media, every company must have a social media policy. A policy that outlines what role social media is going to play in its business affairs, and how the company will deal with specific aspects of its operations from branding to customer management and employee affairs will afford valuable business benefits to the company. Having a policy will not only define the social media activity framework for the business, but will also enable the company to take advantage of social media for business benefit, and mitigate risks.
- Review and Protect Intellectual Property used in Business
All intellectual property created for social media must be reviewed for business benefit, and appropriately protected. All potential forms of IP such as patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, designs, etc., must be identified for review and business analysis. A well planned protection strategy and IP investment will go a long way in building financial and business value for IP of a company on social media.
- Manage Intellectual Property on Social Media effectively and efficiently
Managing IP on social media effectively is absolutely essential for building business and financial value. While distribution, dissemination and management strategies may range from a commons approach to proprietary and hybrid strategies, it is important for companies to keep track of its IP, its usage, distribution and communication. Erroneous management of IP on social media can lead to severe backlash.
- Comply with IP terms and Mitigate IP Risks on Social Media
Every social media platform has a set of terms and conditions that govern IP creation, distribution, and commercialization. It is important for companies to be aware of the said terms and comply with them. It is also absolutely important for companies to comply with relevant laws and regulations.
From IP infringement to misappropriation, there are several risks on social media. Companies must take steps to avoid and mitigate these risks. More often than not, quick action is required to minimize damage.
- Take care of Privacy and Publicity Rights issues on Social Media
Every company must be aware of privacy laws and norms while dealing with partners, customers, consumers and other stake holders on social media. Privacy is not only a sensitive issue, which must be carefully handled, but also volatile and damaging. Any privacy violation on social media can have serious business repercussions.
Publicity Rights are given a high pedestal on social media and must be carefully handled. The line between commercial and non-commercial endorsement on social media is very thin, and must not be taken lightly. Also, any user can claim publicity rights, and the scope of risks is much higher on social media.
- Devise appropriate Policies for Employee activity on Social Media
Employee interactions on social media can have substantial business advantages for a company. In order to maximize value and minimize issues, every company must have a well defined policy for social media interactions of employees. From what an employee can say about the company to how to position the brand, the policy must cover all important facets of business relevance. Lack of control with respect to employee behaviour on social media may turn out to be detrimental to a company’s business interests.
- Frame a well thought-out Brand and Content Use Policy
Brand usage guidelines and content management policies can go a long way in regulating the use of a company’s brand and content on social media. If appropriately used and positioned, brand and content can build tremendous good will and financial value for the company.
- User Generated Content must be carefully managed
Plenty of content is generated by users on a daily basis, and it is very easy for businesses to fall prey to risks from use of user generated content. Care must be taken to take appropriate permissions, and use content in a manner permitted under the law, terms and guidelines. One serious issue with users can land a company in serious trouble.
- Draft and Incorporate appropriate Terms and Conditions and User Agreements
Most businesses copy and institute terms and conditions and user agreements of other entities. In addition to IP infringement inherent in the said activity, the said approach may result in several problems from in adequacy of terms to serious risks from inappropriate provisions. It is therefore always advisable to get a qualified attorney to draft specific terms and conditions, user agreements, take down policies, privacy policies and other legal instruments that suit a business’ requirements.
- Effective Licensing, Merchandizing and Commercialization approach on Social Media
Social media opens doors to a world of opportunities from licensing to merchandizing. However, in order to take advantage of IP commercialization opportunities on social media, a company must protect, structure and transfer its IP suitably. Oversight or lack of due care can result in loss of commercial opportunities, and some times, even in loss of IP. To avoid any IP mishaps and loss of opportunities, it is important to devise, strategize and implement an effective IP commercialization plan on social media.
Contributed by Social Media Law Team of BananaIP
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