The explosion of social media in the past decade has caused a major shift in the way we conduct our affairs. In particular, businesses have been required to adapt to new ways of communicating with their clients. At a rate of thousands of social media applications surfacing each month, and new legal issues surrounding the use of social media, it can feel overwhelming, especially for new businesses.
In order to take advantage of this new phenomenon, it is important to consider what steps can be taken to maximize the benefits of social media:
- Research and determine the best platforms to launch and maintain
- Consider legal issues surrounding the choice of platforms
- Consider implementing corporate policies on the use of social media
Maximizing the benefits of social media takes time and research. First, you need to determine which social media platforms are best suited for your company and will keep clients engaged and interested in your business:
- Would your company benefit from a communication platform such as Facebook or Twitter?
- Would your company benefit from a content sharing platform such as YouTube, Vine, Instagram or Pinterest?
Once you determine which social media apps your company should invest in, you may wish to consider bundling the apps in one place. For example, there are apps that allow your company to run all of its social media platforms from a single application. This consolidation has the obvious benefits of convenience and maintaining consistency in your brand and the way your company communicates with its clients.
Once you have done the research to determine how your company will participate in social media, it is important to invest time to ensure that the platforms you have selected are actually providing material benefits to your company. Are users recognizing your brand? Are you targeting the right demographic for the wares and services you are providing? Are you increasing your client base as a result of your participation in social media? Are you tracking and managing the number of users following your brand? Luckily, there are social media dashboard apps that can help collect this information for you, such as Cyfe, Google Analytics and SumAll. This category of apps is becoming more sophisticated and can provide valuable statistical and reputational information to help a company to make the best use of social media.
Once your company has determined which social media platforms will likely enhance its brand and increase its clientele, it is important to consider the legal implications of engaging in social media:
- Communication platforms can engage issues such as defamation and privacy. For example, in an earlier post , we reported that The High Court of South Africa ruled that a Facebook user was guilty of defamation because a defamatory post appeared on his Facebook wall and was not removed by him, even though he was not the author of the post. These issues are only now beginning to surface in the courts and it is important to take steps to guard against exposure to these types of claims.
- Content sharing platforms can engage issues such as trade-mark and copyright infringement. With thousands of videos, pictures, GIFs and logos promulgated each day through social media, companies may find themselves inadvertently running afoul of others’ intellectual property rights. In order to minimize this risk, it is important for companies to invest the time to educate their employees on the proper use of social media.
As important as it is to conduct proper research and invest the time to protect your brand using social media, it is equally important that your employees are aware of the benefits and risks of using social media. Corporate policies aimed at curtailing the misuse of social media can have a lasting positive effect on a company’s image.
To avoid the feeling of a social media overload, the key to success is proper research, proper analysis of the legal implications of social media and taking proper measures to ensure that the corporation can maximize the value of social media while at the same time minimizing the risks it can bring.