Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram,
Twitter and LinkedIn are increasingly utilised by businesses
worldwide for the significant benefits they can provide. Use of
social media by your business, employees and clients can also
involve risks, which your business should be prepared for. In this
article, we will discuss the importance of implementing a social
media policy for your business.
How is social media relevant to your
When used effectively, social media can be used to:
develop your brand;
promote goods and services;
engage with clients and strategic partners;
market competitions and promotions;
share business news and information; and
increase your search engine visibility.
In fact, social media is now becoming so entrenched in our daily
lives that, even if your business has no official social media
presence, the online activities of your employees and clients can
create a presence.
What are the risks of social media exposure in
Although you or your employees may believe you are posting
content in a private environment, privacy should never be assumed
on social media as reposting, retweeting, sharing and
screenshotting gives all online material the potential to be viewed
by third parties in a public forum.
Irresponsible use of social media can lead to:
the release of confidential business information;
cyber bullying against other employees or even clients;
business reputation damage; and
liability for other legal action, for example, for defamation
or breach of copyright.
The Privacy Act and the Australian Privacy
Principles should also be considered when dealing with social
media, for example:
If you direct market to individuals over social media (by
tagging users in posts in cases where the user's personal
information is available to see), you will have to allow
individuals the option to opt out of further direct marketing.
See our PAW Day 2 article on direct marketing.
Clearly, unrestricted social media usage can have serious
consequences for your business, your employees and the
relationships you have built with existing (and potential) clients
and business partners. To mitigate these risks it is important for
you to develop a comprehensive social media policy for your
How can a social media policy protect against the risks
of negative social media usage?
A social media policy will provide your employees with clear
guidelines as to acceptable and unacceptable uses of personal and
business-related social media. The implementation of a well-drafted
social media policy will allow your business to utilise social
media in a positive way, while simultaneously outlining remedies
for social media related harm.
When preparing a social media policy, you should consider the
Ensure that the policy covers the use of all social media tools
in a variety of situations. These should include the use of social
media in an official capacity representing your business, and your
employees' personal use of social media (where such use can be
linked back to your business).
Clearly specify the standard of behaviour expected of your
employees on social media without unduly restricting your
employee's right to use social media. Your social media policy
should be fair and balanced.
The policy will be more likely to be adopted and adhered to if
you educate your employees about the policy and make sure that the
policy is readily available to them. Provide social media training
to clarify your expectations and give your employees the
opportunity to raise any concerns they may have.
Privacy awareness week
This article is part of our series on handling personal
information as part of Privacy Awareness Week. As an official
partner of the Office of the Australian Information
Commissioner's privacy awareness campaign, Cooper Grace Ward
will be publishing a series of articles that relate to:
how your business can collect personal information;
how your business can engage in direct marketing;
how your business should handle requests to access and correct
the importance of a social media policy; and
how your business can organise internal privacy awareness and
Winner – EOWA Employer of Choice for Women Citation 2009,
2010, 2011 and 2012
Winner – ALB Gold Employer of Choice 2011 and 2012
Finalist – ALB Australasian Law Awards 2008, 2010, 2011 and
2012 (Best Brisbane Firm)
Winner – BRW Client Choice Awards 2009 and 2010 - Best
Australian Law Firm (revenue less than $50m)
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.
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