There is something about social media that makes it look and feel not as real as traditional media. We say things we wouldn’t otherwise; we share information that has no backup. We befriend people we have never seen.
And while these are not okay when it comes to your personal account (because digital bullying is a real problem), they are a complete “no-no” when it comes to business. Just because it’s digital it doesn't mean that the law doesn’t apply to it. The Australian Consumer Law, Spam Law and Australian Competition Law fully apply to your activity online.
In addition, there are legislations that apply specifically to social media for businesses and they are regulated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
We strongly recommend you to go through them in detail before starting your next social media account. For now, just get in the mood by reading through the 3 biggest myths that entrepreneurs believe in about social media:
1. I decide how, when and what
You just can’t say whatever you want on social media. Making misleading comments or allowing them on your social media accounts can lead to a lot of lost business. Not only your reputation will suffer and you will lose your following but clients can file lawsuits against your company.
The biggest myth small business owners believe about social media is that they are in control. Not at all. Social media platforms own your account and they have specific and detailed terms and conditions agreement. If you break the rules, you are out.
There are also extensive legal regulations as mentioned above and if you break them, even worse - your business is out of the game.
2. I can change the rules
Did we mention you don’t make the rules in the first place? Well, you can’t change them either.
If you say that a bag is $50 in your online shop and it is $65 in fact, you mislead customers and you are obliged to give them the bag for $50. You can’t change your mind about the rules because you are not their owner - the legal system and social media platform decide even what contests you can run.
And once you have said something online, once you have made a promise to someone, it can be considered a contract agreement already. Don’t make empty promises!
3. I don’t have responsibility
You might not have control, but you have responsibility. Don’t you just love social media now? You are responsible for the information you provide and you are also responsible for posts from your employees and social media managers.
Your responsibility starts with legal and platform compliance but extends to the behaviour of employees on social media. You have the responsibility to provide truthful information and address issues with customers and followers.
Deleting a comment doesn’t make it disappear forever. If you go to court, social media platforms might provide information and proof that you thought is long gone. To be honest, this is just the tip of the iceberg. You can’t even imagine the assumptions that business managers make every day regarding social media.
The fact that social media is digital makes it less personal, less tangible in a way. But it is 100% real and the law applies to it fully. Don’t play a game or make expensive experiments with social media. The least you could lose is your social media account and following. The worst that can happen is getting sued by a Facebook “fan”. I won’t even get started on the endless list of lawsuits they can file.
Social media and the law are not irrelevant. In fact the more we use social media, the tighter the regulations. Be prepared to start looking at regulations first, and schedule posts second.