Making Sure Your Company Owns Its Social Media Presence

I’ve previously described the trouble some companies have gotten in when they utilized social media presences for their companies that were created by employees off-the-clock, by freelancers, or even by persons unconnected to the company (later acquired or endorsed by the company). When the company attempts to take control over the account and kick out its creator (or vice-versa), the dispute usually ends up in litigation over who controls the account. Although companies usually come out victorious (especially where the account was supported by the company, maintained on company time, and uses the company’s copyrights and trademarks), to have to fight for control over a social media presence is a battle most startups likely do not have the time or resources for. Of course, there are steps any startup founders looking to start a social media presence should follow, especially if employees and/or contractors will be responsible for account creation and maintenance. – Make sure that accounts are created at the company’s direction and expense; try to avoid piggybacking on a fan-generated presence or accounts that employees created in their free time – Draft employee or contractor agreements to clearly state that company social media accounts (and any content generated for the accounts) are the property of the company, including ensuring that any intellectual property is legally “authored” by the company or is otherwise assigned to the company – Put social media policies in place, not just for employees who will administer accounts, but for all employees, so that any company-related social media is created at the company’s direction, and avoids disclosure of trade secrets, confidential information, or other disclosures that may trigger regulatory violations (such as an accidental general solicitation in the course of a company’s equity funding efforts). Of course, be careful with social media policies not to restrict any protected speech, such as collective speech protected under labor laws. – Practically speaking, give multiple employees access to the account so that control can be easily transferred in the event of a departure. If a site’s functions allow it, try to set up administrator functions so that you, as the founder(s), cannot be restricted or locked out by employees.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *