Having an online presence can be a great way for a business to maximize its profits. Using various social media platforms and other internet resources to reach consumers can help increase sales and better advertise products. However, having the wrong message sent out can hurt the business and require a major public relations clean-up campaign.
An individual employee or team of employees tasked with managing an organization’s online presence should generally be given specific guidance about the image the organization wants to project about itself, its mission, and its values. Even if specific messages are not composed for the employees to post, the specific guidelines should be clear enough to ensure that the messages the employees compose line up with the message the business wants to spread.
Sometimes businesses may require employees to watch what they say on their own personal social media accounts. If an employee, especially a member of management, says something offensive online, even if it is on his or her own personal blog, Facebook page, or Twitter account, it can negatively affect the business. Businesses can make these restrictions in employment contracts, as long as any restrictions that a business places on employees’ use of social media are limited and not overly broad. For example, a restriction on employees discussing clients or specific matters related to transactions may be considered a valid restriction.
If the business is concerned about the dissemination of important company secrets or proprietary information, whether publicly through social media or to others through email, the business can ask employees to sign more targeted contracts. Non-disclosure agreements can help protect this kind of information. This kind of company information can also be protected by restricting the number of employees with access to it, and ensuring that there is a method to track any breach in protocol in how the information is shared.
Business owners should also remember that the business can be held liable for the social media missteps of their employees, especially if the employee makes an improper statement in the course of his or her employment. For example, if an employee makes a statement that defames another person, and the defamed person files a lawsuit, the business can be held liable for the employee’s defamatory statements.
When reaching out to prospective customers, it is also important to keep track of negative reviews or comments posted by past customers. If the business ignores these comments or responds in an inappropriate manner, it can further damage the business’s online reputation. When responding positively, offers to remedy a situation should not be made if the business cannot fulfill them. It is also advisable to invite a past customer with a negative review to communicate directly with the business through a more private means of communication.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
As a business owner, it is important to ensure that you protect your business’s online reputation. In order to ensure that you have a legally sufficient plan to handle how employees handle the business’s social media as well as their personal accounts, you should contact an experienced business attorney. Call us at Resnick Law, P.C., in Bloomfield Hills and Detroit, Michigan, to schedule a consultation.
(image courtesy of Parker Byrd)