Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Facebook Creates New Mess for EDD: Messages - Add to Social Media Policy

I read on Law.com today that Facebook Creates New Mess for EDD: Messages. This is exactly why social media policies are so important for law firms and other professionals who deal with sensitive and confidential information.

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Every law firm, accounting firm, medical provider, public relations and marketing firm, etc., should have a section in their social media policy relating to “Messaging Within Social Media.” In fact, if the social media is not part of the company's employee manual, then it should be included there too.

For lawyers / law firms, it should state something to the effect that "Social Media is NOT a platform for attorneys to converse with clients, judges, witnesses, jurors, opposing counsel, or any others regarding business matters. All correspondence MUST be handled via e-mail or traditional mail in order to preserve its integrity, maintain a correspondence log, and protect attorney-client privilege."

The policy should then go on to provide basic template language to empower attorneys and staff to respond to inquiries on social media platforms that should be handled via e-mail or otherwise. For example, the policy could say: "When you receive a message via social media that you would otherwise deem confidential, privileged, important to our business, important to a client matter, etc., use the following template language to respond: Thank you for reaching out to me here. In order to protect our correspondence, please send me your e-mail address and telephone number so I may reach out to you directly. In the alternative, please feel free to call me at {insert telephone number} or send me an e-mail at {insert e-mail address}."

Social media is not only changing the way we handle marketing, public relations and business development, it is also changing the way we conduct business. If your company doesn't already have a social media policy, I encourage you to add it to your 2011 high priority goals.

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