This social media guide was designed by Ninomiya Law, PLLC. It is only a guide alerting businesses and organizations of issues they face and actions they should consider. It is not legal advice. Get professional advice from a licensed attorney when contemplating legal issues. Every situation is different, needs and goals are not uniform, and laws vary significantly between jurisdictions.   

All information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Always consult a licensed attorney for legal advice. Circumstances, jurisdiction, and applicable law vary from case to case. The principal office of Ninomiya Law, PLLC is located in Round Rock, Texas. Ninomiya Law, PLLC is responsible for the content of this website.

social media guide for business and organizations

​All commerce and interactions among organizations now pass through the Internet and social media in some way. It is unavoidable because virtually every customer, client, and colleague is on social media. All businesses and organizations must utilize social media to get their message out or they will quickly lose to competitors that do. However the ubiquitous use of social media gives the illusion that it is safe and easy. In reality social media can be very dangerous. A single unfortunate post on social media can destroy a reputation that has been nurtured for years. There are also a multitude of laws and regulations that can expose you to lawsuits, fines, and even imprisonment. Social media law can be complex and the rules are constantly changing as courts attempt to adjust to new technology and applications.

Social Media problems businesses face include:

  • Regulation: Misuse of social media by businesses can prompt sanctions under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Securities and Exchange Commission. State Attorneys General, and even the European Union.

  • Marketing: Improper use of social media, contests, and sweepstakes can not only result in huge fines and brand damage, it can also result in criminal charges for fraud or enhanced damages under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

  • Reviews and Ratings: Attempts to manipulate Yelp and other ratings websites can also result in fines and brand damage. Many problems come from competitors attempting to harm your brand with fraudulent negative feedback.
  • Employment: Social media is often the focal point of discrimination lawsuits in the hiring and firing process. Businesses can get in big trouble if they intentionally or inadvertently infringe on employee rights to discuss protected matters on social media under the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Ownership: Conflicts often break out between employers and former employees over the ownership of branded social media accounts. If this is not clearly established prior to the conflict, a lengthy and costly lawsuit may follow.
  • External problems: Businesses need to know how, when, and where to respond to negative publicity on social media. There must also be a monitoring and reporting system in place so businesses can be quickly altered to external problems.
  • Internal problems: If an employee acts inappropriately on social media and harms the employer, the ability for the employer to act depends largely on the guidelines laid out in the business social media policy. It is common for businesses to have no policy, one that is outdated, or one that is actually illegal.​ 

​The solution is to find a social media strategy that balances social media inspired growth with protection from unnecessary legal risks. This social media strategy developed by Ninomiya Law, PLLC identifies seven critical areas to craft a customized plan for each business or organization based on its particular needs and risks. Our strategies are comprehensive yet easy to understand. They provide safety and flexibility. Best of all they are affordable for any sized business or organization. If you don’t have your own legal department or corporate counsel, let us be that for you.

Our social media strategy has seven steps:

  1. Plan: Identify your specific goals and risks for social media. Consider every aspect of your entity including crisis management, sales, customer service, employees/members, product development, and branding.

  2. Policy: Establish the rules you want your people to follow on social media keeping in mind what the law, regulations, and other authorities allow. Include employees/members as partners in the social media process. Empowering them in controlled ways will help you achieve your objectives.

  3. Handbook: Memorialize your policy in a written document that is shared with those subject to it. This establishes your due diligence. It is important to guard against creating a document that is itself illegal.

  4. Training: Provide notice to those subject to the policy, instruct them on social media expectations, and gather feedback. Training your people points them in the right direction with regard to your business/organization and is also an opportunity to learn from their collective social media experience.

  5. Acknowledgement: Gather signed documents from those subject to the policy acknowledging their understanding and acceptance. This makes enforcement of the policy must simpler if there is a violation. Again, it is important to guard against making the acknowledgment illegal.

  6. Monitoring: Set up a mechanism for keeping an eye on what is said about you on social media so you may enforce your policy and act proactively. Every employee, member, customer and client can help you monitor your brand if you establish a process. Responding to customer feedback is an excellent way to engage your client base.

  7. Adapt: Revisit these steps periodically to see if new developments require adjustments. Social media is a fast evolving medium and it is essential to keep up.

If you are tempted to find a generic social media policy and the Internet and adopt it as your own, be warned that it would be a bad idea for several reasons:

  • Instead of protecting you from legal problems, a do-it-yourself social media policy that doesn’t address your unique needs could create new legal problems that you didn’t have before.

  • Varying business models, employees, and industries require different approaches. What works for one could expose you to legal problems in another.

  • Different industries are subject to different regulatory schemes that impact social media. A lawful social media policy in one industry can be unlawful in another.

  • Much of what you find on the Internet is outdated forms that do not consider new laws, regulations, and case precedent.

  • Laws impacting social media can vary significantly between jurisdictions

  • What works in the real world does not always work on social media. Your social media policy must specifically address social media.

  • If a lawyer creates your social media policy, they are responsible for their legal advice. If you do it by yourself, you are legally responsible for anything you miss legally.

Lawyers are usually obnoxiously expensive so people try to avoid them. Ninomiya Law, PLLC strives to fill the void between expensive law firms and trying to get by without needed legal advice. We want to build relationships and loyalty over time, so racking up billable hours is not on our agenda. We want you to be comfortable calling us with a legal question without worrying about what it will cost you. Contact us for a free initial consultation.

Ninomiya Law, PLLC services for businesses and organizations:

  • Affordable plans to be your outsourced corporate counsel or legal department.

  • Comprehensive social media strategy planning, creation, execution, and evaluation.

  • Entity creation

  • Contracts

  • Leases and real estate purchases

  • Insurance

  • Employment and taxes

  • Estate planning

  • Intellectual property