In social media, the opportunities for brand promotion are huge – but the risks of brand damage are just as high. Clear guidelines and best practices can actively protect your brands against infringements. Involved in brand protection from the start of social media, CSC has developed best-practice guidelines for brand owners that distil everything we’ve learned.
Here they are in summary:
1. Develop a policy for employees
This covers two areas of their social media life: personal use and when they are representing the brand. It is almost impossible for organizations to police their employees’ personal social media sites; and many would not wish to. But it is ethical to remind employees that they should exercise caution when mixing personal posts with information or comments about the organization they work for. Employees shouldn’t write anything about their brand they wouldn’t want their bosses to see.When interacting on behalf of the company, employees need first to acknowledge this. Then they must follow correct trademark and copyright practices and stick to any social media record management policies. Naturally they also need to follow relevant regulatory requirements.
2. Centralize your social media portfolio
It’s easy, especially in large organizations, for enthusiastic marketing departments or brand managers to set up social media accounts. But it can inadvertently place the brand at risk. Centralizing registrations helps ensure consistency and provides an opportunity to defensively register any vanity social URLs or subdomains. And if a social media account gets hacked, an employee goes rogue or anything else happens, centralization means registrations can be easily reset to reduce potential damage.
3. Choose your battles
Prioritizing popular sites and content that is being seen by large numbers of people is much more important than chasing down an annoying mention on a page with no followers. Monitoring should cover third party use of vanity URLs and subdomains and third party content elsewhere.
4. For enforcement, familiarize yourself with each platform’s rules
Unlike domain names, the social and mobile worlds are largely unregulated. When somebody impersonates you or uses trademark-protected content, each social media platform’s own policies determine what happens. With Twitter, for example, brand owners can request a username suspension, but no general procedure is in place to transfer them. Facebook does have an infringement complaints process, but makes its own decisions about whether usernames should be removed or reclaimed. The best policy is to proactively register branded social media usernames with all key (and emerging) social media sites well before you need them, as a way to “future-proof” the opportunity.