Businesses that have adopted Social Media for advertising, marketing and to get their brand noticed have benefited greatly. Legal Risks, Employee Mismanagement and Intellectual Property leaks have created a complication though that can potentially ruin a brands reputation.
Potential Risks to Organisations
- Intellectual Property – Brands commonly ‘Share’ or ‘Retweet’ information that previously was not theirs. Potential problems will arise between various businesses if they are incorrectly displaying another brands information.
- Misleading claims on social media – In the scenario that comments or statements posted via the businesses social media page are misleading and deceptive it’s possible for legal liabilities to occur. A published post that could potentially hurt or tarnish another brands reputation could result in claim for defamation. For example if Woolworth was to make a Facebook status “We’ve got the best, Coles has the rest..”
- Statutory risks (e.g. Copyright, Privacy and Discrimination) – Necessary terms and conditions have been implemented into social media to deal with copyright infringement, privacy and discrimination. Businesses using social media should take the time to create their own personal policy to ensure careful steps are taken to monitor what they are publishing.
The global giant of computer software Microsoft, one of the worlds largest companies founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen almost 40 years ago has seen the ups and downs of technology and what it has to offer. Microsoft is also using social media to target its customers with images, links and videos of their products. A company this size has tremendous pressure to ensure that their legal risks are not breached. Comparing this to a smaller size company, if Microsoft published something that offended its customers it would receive a lot more scrutiny compared to a company with less followers.
However, in 2012 Microsoft received some bad publicity when one of the employees who managed their Twitter account posted a response to liberal economist Robert Reich. “To NY to visit my 4-yr-old granddaughter. Also on ABC’s ”This Week” panel w/ Ann Couter, among others. I’d rather be w/ my granddaughter.” Was the tweet originally posted by Mr. Reich; the following was made by an employee of Microsoft who believed he was using his personal account at the time replied with “@RBReich your granddaughter’s level of discourse and policy > those of Ann Coulter”. The tweet was deleted very quickly and forced Microsoft to make an official statement regarding the issue. Microsoft stated it was a mistake by the employee and that necessary action has been taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again. This is a clear example of why businesses should implement a policy which will prevent this type of mistake occurring.
Social Media brings a brands Virtual Identity to life, if your identity has been tarnished with bad publicity for reasons regarding copyright, discrimination or irresponsible posts it may be hard to connect with your customers again. It’s up to the business to make sure they follow correct policies that will entice their customers not resent them.
That’s it for this post, remember to leave your feedback and if you’ve heard of any other stories like this feel free to share them in the comment section!
Palmer, A. (2012, September 23rd). Oops: Microsoft insults Ann Coulter on Twitter. Retrieved August 15th, 2013, from Politico: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/81577.html