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Social media has changed the way that we market and manage our businesses. It can be both the saviour and the doom of your business, so it is best to learn to use it to achieve a positive result.

First, you should keep in mind that social media is a 24/7 operation that needs to be monitored on a regular basis. Second, when you post on social media, you are ultimately communicating with the public at large. Finally, you are responsible for what is posted on your social media page, even if you were not the author of it.

By keeping the following rules and regulations in mind, you should be able to use social media to boost your business:

1) If you want to stay in the game, don’t defame!

Defamation is defined as the deliberate spreading of information about an individual or a small business. In this case, a small business refers to a company with less than 10 full time employees. Defamatory information can potentially ruin the reputation of its victim by damaging others’ opinion of them. Sharing posts that are defamatory in nature is also illegal. In other words, even if you are the not the original creator of the defamatory matter, you can still be liable for defamation. For example, if you repost a defamatory image that was created by another person, you can still land yourself in hot water!

2) Private and confidential

You need to remember that social media is easily accessed by millions of people around the world. While this can be a huge advantage for creating awareness of your business’ brand, you need to be careful, because if you reveal something that you shouldn’t, it can spread to millions of people in no time! Your social media profile should not interfere with anybody’s privacy or confidentiality. In regard to confidentiality, you should ensure that you do not reveal trade secrets online as this could be extremely damaging to your competitive edge.

The Privacy Act protects all Australians from the violation of their private information. When people visit your website, they may be asked to input personal information to subscribe to something on your site or to receive updates. This information should not be revealed on social media at all. Your website terms and conditions should stipulate how you intend to use the information collected.

3) A social media policy is the best policy

Most people also have personal social media accounts. You should phase in a social media policy, which stipulates what kind of information employees can post about your business. Employees tend to respond better to policies, which are not too prohibitive in nature. Therefore, instead of downright banning your employees from discussing their work on their social media account, you can suggest positive ways that they can post about it.

4) It’s not alright to take advantage of someone’s copyright!

When somebody creates a new creative concept, they become the copyright holder of the work. This concept can range from an artwork to the lyrics of a song. In Australia, this right is automatic and free, meaning that you don’t have to fill out any paperwork or pay a fee to become the copyright holder. Once you have created something, you are its rightful owner with protection granted under the Copyright Act 1968. As a copyright holder, you have exclusive rights to license others in regard to copying your work, performing it in public, broadcasting it, publishing it and making an adaptation of the work.

You should not claim someone else’s work as your own because this is a clear violation of the Copyright Act. If you decide to use someone else’s creative concept as part of your business’ website or social media, then you need to acknowledge the original creator of the work. It’s also a good idea to ask the copyright holder for permission to use their work. There are many programs and apps that allow you to add a watermark to reposted images that show whose profile they originated from. This is a good way to avoid violating any copyright rules.

5) Be honest and open: don’t make any misleading or false claims about the goods or services you provide!

Social media can be the perfect vessel to spread your brand’s message, however you should not say anything that could be falsely construed. Although you may not intend to mislead, the way that you communicate your message may lead to confusion for your customers who end up being misled anyway. For this particular offence, intention is not a consideration, so you will still be liable. In order to manage this risk, it is good to have some sort of evidence to back up any claim that you make over social media.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • If using social media for business then make sure you remain professional at all times.

    Reply

  • i value the reputation that a business can build with you. loyalty keeps them coming back

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  • Thank you for the informative article.

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  • Wise tips !

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  • These guidelines are very useful not only for small businesses, but I think for most people on social media these days!

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  • Thanks for the tips, they’re a great reminder. Social media can be a tricky landscape when managing for your own business or for a brand/business you represent. It really can be a minefield, but also positive too.

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  • Good tips here – but I am so glad that I don’t have to be part of this social media fad.

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  • I like number 4, more people should do this.

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  • I really like this concept and these tools for businesses.

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  • I don’t know how a business can move forward without social media, but you need to know how to handle complaints, enquiries etc.

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  • Social media can be so valuable to business but at the same time it can be quite damaging.

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  • Great tips. Social media is a great marketing tool but you need to be fully aware of its power too.

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  • It is all down to common sense

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  • I like the bottom one about being honest. It’s so important to me and seems to be sadly lacking in quite a few people nowadays

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  • Fantastic information for people in small business to be aware of

    Reply

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