Thinking about a social media plan for your business is critical
to allow your customers to immediately connect with your business
across a variety of platforms. There are many different platforms
available, each with their own benefits and purposes. Below are my
tips for navigating social media sites Facebook and Twitter.
Businesses need to consider promoting their brands online from
an early stage. As a first step, you should register your brand
name as a trade mark to stop others from using your name, or a
similar name, in relation to goods and services similar to those
which your business offers. Having a registered trade mark will
also make it much easier to enforce your rights in your brand
You should consider registering social media accounts that
include your brand name, even if you have no immediate intention to
start using these accounts. This will stop others from registering
these accounts before you and taking advantage of the reputation
you have (or will soon have) in your brand name.
According to research conducted by technology provider
NewVoiceMedia, Facebook has become Australia's favourite social
network site for interacting with businesses, for both positive and
negative customer service experiences.
It is important to know that it is assumed that you own all
content posted on Facebook, so make sure you only post content that
is yours or that you have a right to use. However, by signing up to
Facebook and agreeing to its terms and conditions, you provide
Facebook with a licence to use any content protected by
intellectual property (IP) rights (ie photos), subject to your
privacy and application settings, until your account is
If you find that someone is infringing your trade mark or
copyright work on Facebook, you are able to submit an IP
infringement notice to Facebook, and Facebook will promptly remove
or disable access to the content in question. The wrongful use of
your trade mark includes another trader using your trade mark (or a
similar mark) to identify themselves as the source of goods and
services similar to those offered by you in relation to the trade
mark. This will be easier to establish where you are able to point
to a registered trade mark for your brand name. The wrongful use of
a copyright work belonging to you includes the use of a photo taken
Facebook has comprehensive policies governing the use of IP at
the site, plus rules on what Page names are available to users. For
example, Page names cannot include generic location names (ie
Burgundy Wine) or misleading words (ie use of 'official'
for a site that is not).
Facebook's policies may change from time to time, so it is
important to read up on the information available at the site to
know where you stand as a Facebook user.
Twitter is another useful way of connecting with customers,
sharing with them succinct information that resonates with your
brand, and letting them know about special offers, sales etc.
Twitter is also often used for parody or fan accounts. Twitter
allows these accounts provided it is clear that they are not
official accounts of the brand itself, and use words like
'fake' or 'fan' in the subject of the account. Your
brand could, therefore, be the subject of a parody account and
there is not a lot you can do to stop that, provided it is clear
that it is not an official account.
Twitter may, however, suspend an account if that account is
being operated with the clear intent to mislead others through the
unauthorised use of a trade mark. If an account is confusing,
Twitter will give the account holder an opportunity to clear up any
Twitter has terms of service that set out user rights and
obligations, which may be updated from time to time. Importantly,
Twitter requires proof of a registered trade mark to prevent
another user from 'squatting' on an account name that
includes a trade mark before removing that account. If an account
name is close to a registered trade mark, but does not associate
itself with the owner of the trade mark, Twitter will not remove
As noted at the outset, the first step is to make sure you have
your trade mark registered to arm yourself to make the best use of
social media and to ensure you can stop others taking a free
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
K&L Gates has been awarded a 2012 EOWA Employer of Choice
for Women citation acknowledging our commitment to workplace
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