How to Run a Social Media Strategy and Avoid Potential Legal Trouble


As a business you have, by now, probably realized that social media presence is an imperative and that it is one of the greatest tools placed in your hands. This is where all the customers are hiding. In order to use this tool properly and avoid taking a great miss instead of gaining an advantage, there are rules you must adhere to. You can find a list below, to give you an idea of which issues you may be facing and the steps you need to take to avoid them.

Using influencers

What people do on social media is follow each other. It means that they want to be informed about activities of others. For some reason, certain people have somehow managed to stand out from the crowd and now have thousands of followers who care to see what they do and hear their opinions. Having someone with this type of influence, as well as the endorsement from famous people with large fan bases, maybe a perfect strategy for your campaign. The only trouble is that the audience needs to be aware that the content is sponsored and that the influencers themselves did not initiate it. It used to be enough to use simple hashtags to disclose that the content has been sponsored, however, it is now preferred to have it clearly written out or said. Having mentioned hashtags, they are now also trademarked so you cannot simply abuse someone’s or something’s good reputation for your commercial purposes.

Using incentives

Be careful how you decide to give out free stuff. The point of the freebies you offer is to have some activity happening on your page. This is why companies usually choose to organize a contest of some kind and include the giveaways as prizes. The contest requires from participants to display a skill. They are subjected to social media terms and conditions, as well as your state’s rules in the field. Make sure you have a detailed disclaimer, outlining all of the requirements, in accordance with the above-mentioned rules. Alternatively, you could use sweepstakes as they only spread awareness and give out randomly without having the audience compete for something. Check the laws applied to you when it comes to sweepstakes but there are usually no limitations.

Using Music

By rule, most promotional videos will have some sort of musical background. The important question is where did they get the music from? Your safest bet is to hire someone to create a fresh tune for your ad. The law is much stricter when it comes to commercial users so you adding someone else’s song to your promotion, is not the same as when you share a YouTube video on your private account. For any music you use that is not your own, you need to purchase rights.

Using visual content

Using visual content, namely images and videos could usually get you in trouble the following three ways: using copyrighted images without a permission, reposting user-generated content related to your business without their permission, and getting people’s faces in your images without their release. If you are unable to create unique visual content that you will have all the rights to, then make sure to use stock images and purchase the rights yourself. The safest would be if you could purchase them in the company’s name to avoid any confusion if the photos are obtained by one of your employees in their own name. Also, make sure that you have the releases of rights from people showing in the images. While it may be fine to post your holiday photos with passers-by in the background, you have to be careful when it comes to using such images for commercial purposes. In order to stay safe, try not using anything you do not have explicit rights to use.

Use truthful content

You are obliged by law to be accurate in your content that is, statements. Do not base your strategy on unrightfully glorifying of your business by badmouthing your competition. They are already not your biggest fans and using this unethical tool will get you sued for sure. Another way of not being honest is by using fake testimonials. People will suspect most testimonials to be fake so do not confirm their doubts by using these. This could also get you in trouble by violating laws related to truth in advertising.

Get legal assistance

While your marketing team needs to get legal training in the field of copyright and other potential breaches of the law related to the marketing industry, it is still advisable to get legal assistance. Sydney based Lawyers I have contacted on the subject, explain that there are numerous places one can find a flaw and a reason to sue in your marketing campaign as there are a lot of different criteria and angels you need to look from, as well as the changing regulations. The best way of decreasing the chances of getting sued is by having a legal team review your strategy and content once created. They will also be very familiar with the matter itself and able to defend you in case someone still thinks you are in the breach.

As powerful a tool it may be, social media are not to be taken likely and need to be approached with care. A final piece of advice is to update your account regularly as what may happen is that the content you have created according to all laws and regulations stays on your account and gets you in trouble several years from now when the law changes.


About David Koller

David Koller is a passionate blogger and copywriter for Media Gurus, mainly interested in Digital Marketing and law.