Do you have your social media policy in place? [FreeStyleFriday]

With the rise of social media, if you have not dealt with it in your business, you likely will be dealing with it at some point in the near future. While there are fancier and more technical definitions, “social media” boils down to any service that allows a person to keep in contact with other people through digital means.

Social media can take many different forms, including Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures and video. Examples of social media applications are Google Groups (reference, social networking), MySpace (social networking), Facebook (social networking), (product reviews), (personal music), YouTube (social networking and video sharing), Avatars United (social networking), Second Life (virtual reality), Flickr (photo sharing) and, of course, Twitter (social networking & microblogging).

With so many outlets for employees to participate and share their views, it is not surprising that the opportunities for a business to be negatively impacted also increase. Today, employees can communicate with the world from almost any place, at any time and through a number of different channels. It is also fairly easy for communications (positive and negative) to attach to your business and shape the public image of your business. Additionally, with employees communicating in a way that could be construed as “on behalf of the company”, there can be legal implications. A prudent business needs a policy to control and direct this potential torrent of information.

Your business may already have a communications policy that broadly addresses communications by employees with the outside world. However, a specific or refined policy that addresses at least several key issues raised by social media is advisable. If you are interested in seeing some of social media policy guidance I have create, please email me at

Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."