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Create a Social Media Policy in Web 2.0

create a social media policy

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As the World Trademark Review roundtable continues, our trademark experts share how to manage and communicate social media internally. What departments should be involved and why? In Part 1, our experts shared what should be included in their social media policy. The ideas that follow are the advice these experts provide to their global trademark clients. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Learn from the pros.

In part 2, the experts answer the question:

Q. How should the social media portfolio be best managed internally (to increase security and communicate the social media policy)—and which departments need to be involved?

Malia Horine—Corporation Service Company

We recommend that rights holders centralize this function, much as they do with their trademark or domain name portfolios. Registrations for social media are driven by the email address used to register the user name. If this function is centralized, the company can ensure that if the account gets hacked or an employee goes rogue, it has a quick way to reset that information and reduce potential damage.

It is also important to have a strategy around this area if you are using multiple agencies or firms and to determine how these registrations will be handled from the outset (especially the email address used to establish the registration) as they relate to your social media portfolio.

Pooja Dodd—LexOrbis

Perhaps the best way to manage the social media portfolio is to make a single point of contact – that is, a particular individual/spokesperson to deal exclusively with the company’s activities in the Web 2.0 environment. Such a person – along with a team, if necessary – should be given the task of managing the social media portfolio end to end, including preparing the professional material to be posted on social media.

The human resources and corporate communications departments need to be involved very closely to manage the social media portfolio. Additionally, this team can be entrusted with the task of building the brand on social media.

Sascha Abrar—Löffel Abrar

A social media manager plays a critical role. On the one hand, he or she must monitor what users communicate to others about the company and its trademarks on social media. On the other, social media managers themselves must communicate on social media and be able to respond to acts by third parties which are detrimental to the company. As the use of social media by companies also requires answers to questions asked by social media users, the manager must have a good network within the company.

The legal department or external consultants must be involved in dealing with the question of whether and which information is to be distributed on social media and how they should respond to possible infringements. Moreover, the product departments can be involved – for instance, if questions on special products arise on social media. Ultimately, social media managers must redirect inquiries and comments to the right people or departments within the company and to external consultants – and must ensure that they can respond quickly.

Julia Anne Matheson—Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner

Obviously, social media engagement will also vary considerably depending on the type of company involved. However, as an initial matter, companies need to ask themselves whether social media is really necessary to their marketing – if they are not consumer-driven, it may not be, and in that case reducing the company’s social media footprint may be an important way of reducing a brand’s vulnerability. Presuming that social media is relevant to your company, the first step is to figure out what the critical channels are so that you can be sure to devote the proper coverage to monitoring them.

Depending on the nature of your business, blogs, message boards and comment sections on industry and trade publication websites may be critical. Companies should also consider putting together a list of keywords that people are likely to use in order to track conversations around these. Also, making sure that your marketing/PR groups are establishing company accounts on key social media websites and posting to them regularly will ensure that the majority of users who encounter your brand will view it in the manner that you intend. Finally, as part of implementing a social media policy, companies need to put together crisis-management decision trees that specifically address, in advance, how coordination should work between the various departments. Any social media policy should anticipate the involvement of key players in marketing/public relations, legal, product development and company executives.

Matt Sammon—Marks & Clark

A policy relating to the use of social media by employees needs to be developed with input from the HR, marketing and IT departments at the bare minimum. The HR department can define the policy, and communicate and enforce it. The marketing department – which in most instances would encourage the positive use of social media to promote a company’s brand or brands – can then provide guidance on the use of the brand and any accompanying information. The role of the IT department is normally to monitor and police social media use in accordance with the established policy.

This excerpt first appeared in the June/July 2014 edition of World Trademark Review and was published with permission. To learn more from the experts on how to protect your brand you can read our full article!

The panelists appearing in the roundtable may be reached:

Matt Sammon, UK Head of Trademarks
Marks & Clerk

Julia Anne Matheson, Partner

Malia Horine, Global Director of monitoring and enforcement services
Corporation Service Company

Pooja Dodd, Lawyer

Sascha Abrar, Partner
Löffel Abrar

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