64% of sales professionals reported closing at least one deal in 2014 as a direct result of using social media. (Forbes)
It’s no surprise that startups turn to social media for their first sales, likes, leads and to establish a brand.
You don’t even need a website to start a business nowadays! A popular Instagram account or a witty blog are enough to start creating an audience and selling.
But social media is a trap!
What most social media strategists and marketers won’t tell you is that:
Business and individuals need to understand the same laws apply to social media as traditional media. It is not considered private space by the courts and your messages and posts can be used in court proceedings.
Social media allows startups to launch with minimum expenses, but with maximum risk.
That is, if they don’t know social media law.
That’s a bit against common sense, I know. Aren’t most startup risks finance oriented? Like getting into deep debt? Well, no, my dear entrepreneur, they’re not. One of the biggest risks is going to court and losing your business, money, reputation and license.
A few months ago, I warned people about the personal impacts of social media in courts:
This video warns you about the personal risks of social media, but isn’t your business personal as well.
Let’s see how this translates in the impact social media law can have on your business…
What surprises me the most is that people don’t realise that social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and even LinkedIn are public spaces. Nothing is personal. The most important thing that impacts startups is that once it’s out there, it’s gone. Even if you delete a post, it still can be used in court or for partners, customers and competitors to file claims against you.
When should you be careful? Always think twice before sharing, but here are a few examples you don’t want to post:
- check-ins at restaurants when you’re supposed to work on a client’s project
- black mouthing your competitors or their products
- status updates about clients
- selfies with clients
- previews on client’s creative work
- exaggerations about your product or service
- prices and quotes that are not adequate
- misrepresenting tags
- misleading comments
- keep your feedback private when negative
- messages that include confidential information (use email instead)
Even if you’re extra careful with these, your customers, clients, partners and leads might post things you wouldn’t consider completely legally compliant.
How do you protect from being tagged? How do you make sure that clients’ comments about your product aren’t misleading others?
It’s not easy, but you can do one of two things:
- have a comprehensive social media policy that can limit your liability in such cases (even if you are just starting out)
- monitor all social media channels for your name or brand mentions (Googling your brand and name every week should do, but which entrepreneur has time for that really?)
Instead of conclusion
Social media can be groundbreaking for startups. Or it can be business-breaking.
You can’t really predict what people will do or say about your brand or what will happen with your social media channels. But, you can prepare to get the best of them without the legal complications.
Startups on social media? Yes, I’m all for it, if you don’t forget social media law.