• At Kemp Little, we are known for our ability to serve the very particular needs of a large but diverse technology client base. Our hands-on industry know-how makes us a good fit with many of the world's biggest technology and digital media businesses, yet means we are equally relevant to companies with a technology bias, in sectors such as professional services, financial services, retail, travel and healthcare.
  • Kemp Little specialises in the technology and digital media sectors and provides a range of legal services that are crucial to fast-moving, innovative businesses.Our blend of sector awareness, technical excellence and responsiveness, means we are regularly ranked as a leading firm by directories such as Legal 500, Chambers and PLC Which Lawyer. Our practice areas cover a wide range of legal issues and advice.
  • Our Commercial Technology team has established itself as one of the strongest in the UK. We are ranked in Legal 500, Chambers & Partners and PLC Which Lawyer, with four of our partners recommended.
  • Our team provides practical and commercial advice founded on years of experience and technical know-how to technology and digital media companies that need to be alert to the rules and regulations of competition law.
  • Our Corporate Practice has a reputation for delivering sound legal advice, backed up with extensive industry experience and credentials, to get the best results from technology and digital media transactions.
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  • We have an industry-leading reputation for our outsourcing expertise. Our professionals deliver credible legal advice to providers and acquirers of IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services.
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  • At Kemp Little, we advise clients in diverse sectors where technology is fundamental to the ongoing success of their businesses.They include companies that provide technology as a service and businesses where the use of technology is key to their business model, enabling them to bring their product or service to market.
  • We bring our commercial understanding of digital business models, our legal expertise and our reputation for delivering high quality, cost-effective services to this dynamic sector.
  • Acting for market leaders and market changers within the media industry, we combine in-depth knowledge of the structural technology that underpins content delivery and the impact of digitisation on the rights of producers and consumers.
  • We understand the risks facing this sector and work with our clients to conquer those challenges. Testimony to our success is the continued growth in our team of professionals and the clients we serve.
  • We advise at the forefront of the technological intersection between life sciences and healthcare. We advise leading technology and data analytics providers, healthcare institutions as well as manufacturers of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnological products.
  • For clients operating in the online sector, our teams are structured to meet their commercial, financing, M&A, competition and regulatory, employment and intellectual property legal needs.
  • Our focus on technology makes us especially well positioned to give advice on the legal aspects of digital marketing. We advise on high-profile, multi-channel, cross-border cases and on highly complex campaigns.
  • The mobile and telecoms sector is fast changing and hugely dependent on technology advances. We help mobile and wireless and fixed telecoms clients to tackle the legal challenges that this evolving sector presents.
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  • Our clients trust us to apply our solutions and know-how to help them make the best use of technology in structuring deals, mitigating key risks to their businesses and in achieving their commercial objectives.
  • We have extensive experience of advising customers and suppliers in the retail sector on technology development, licensing and supply projects, and in advising on all aspects of procurement and online operations.
  • Our legal professionals work alongside social media providers and users in relation to the commercial, privacy, data, advertising, intellectual property, employment and corporate issues that arise in this dynamic sector.
  • Our years of working alongside diverse software clients have given us an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of the software marketplace, market practice and alternative negotiating strategies.
  • Working with direct providers of travel services, including aggregators, facilitators and suppliers of transport and technology, our team has developed a unique specialist knowledge of the sector
  • Your life as an entrepreneur is full of daily challenges as you seek to grow your business. One of the key strengths of our firm is that we understand these challenges.
  • Kemp Little is trusted by some of the world’s leading luxury brands and some of the most innovative e-commerce retailers changing the face of the industry.
  • HR Bytes is an exclusive, comprehensive, online service that will provide you with a wide range of practical, insightful and current employment law information. HR Bytes members get priority booking for events, key insight and a range of employment materials for free.
  • FlightDeck is our portal designed especially with start-up and emerging technology businesses in mind to help you get your business up and running in the right way. We provide a free pack of all the things no-one tells you and things they don’t give away to get you started.

Social Media Governance: Tips for In-House Counsel

"The basis of our partnership strategy and our partnership approach: We build the social technology. They provide the music.”  - Mark Zuckerberg

Corporate use of social media has rapidly become commonplace across most industries, proving there is no shortage of companies willing to provide the soundtrack to Zuckerberg’s vision.  Nor is it limited to the global consumer brands; from sewerage treatment companies to funeral homes, businesses are flocking to Facebook and other social media platforms.   
 
Yet in the flurry to establish their themselves as ‘influencers’ online and engage directly with their customers, businesses often neglect the question of social media governance.  Planning and implementing a governance strategy is important to ensure a cohesive approach across the business, identify risks and take steps to minimise them, and to manage crisis situations.  
 
What we are seeing is that this aspect is often overlooked because the evolution and management of social media within a business can be driven by opportunity rather than risk.  This can leave in-house counsel fielding the consequences of decisions rather than making them.  Yet in our experience, the in-house counsel has a role to play in effective social media governance and can help protect their company as it ‘socialises its brand’, without diminishing the opportunity.
In this article we outline some tips for in-house counsel regarding social media governance.  These should assist you to identify and communicate your role in your business’ social media strategy.
 
1.        Get the attention of the business
A common theme we are hearing is that the business does not see social media as an area that requires legal input. 
The use of social media by businesses is still in its infancy, relative to other sales and communication channels.  Yet there are already examples of where companies have made catastrophic mistakes.   Despite this, many companies still hold the view that ‘it won’t happen to us’. 
Although scare tactics can seem unsophisticated, using examples of where others have gone wrong can be an effective way to capture the attention of the business.  The goal in doing so is to illustrate where the risks lie in poorly-thought out social media strategies.   
Remember: Social Media is like sky-diving – the fact that risk exists is not a reason not to do it, but it is sensible to take precautions
 
2.       Engage with the stakeholders
By its very nature, social media is a game of many players and is relevant to many aspects of a business including marketing, legal, HR and IT.  We have illustrated this in the ‘Corporate Social Media Matrix’ set out below.  No one needs to be left out of the conversation and everyone has something to contribute.  If in-house counsel can help to facilitate discussion between these stakeholders, a company’s social media strategy is likely to be more cohesive.
 
Corporate Social Media Matrix
 
 
Remember: many parts of the business may feel they have a vested interest in social media – the company’s strategy should reflect the objectives of these stakeholders
 
3.       Plan for the worst, hope for the best
Picture this: You’re in-house counsel as a food manufacturer.  It is 9pm on a Friday night and your phone rings; it is a colleague telling you that they have seen a conversation on Twitter which alleges that your most successful product contains a harmful substance. The message has been re-tweeted extensively and someone has started an ‘hate#’ conversation about your company.   
Is this the best time to decide on your crisis management strategy?
Planning for a crisis does not need to be complicated, but you need to ensure that it is done in advance.  Simple details like ensuring there is a list of contact names and responsibilities and a decision-making matrix, as well as access to the relevant administration account and password, can help to contain an incident. 
This is particularly important if you out-source the generation or moderation of your content to an agency or other third party; they need to know exactly who to call and when.  Your contract with them also needs to specify clearly where the obligations lie in such a situation.
Remember: A social media crisis can rapidly get out of control – it is vital to plan ahead. 
 
4.       Develop a roadmap
Social media governance is an evolutionary process. Initially, your focus may be on information-gathering and centralising control of accounts and passwords, implementing broad guidelines and defining responsibilities.  Further down the line, education and moderation will become more of a priority. 
Plan your roadmap to governance and communicate it to the business. By demonstrating the steps involved, senior management can gain an understanding that social media governance is an on-going process.
Remember: social media governance is a tool to minimise risk, but also to communicate the benefits of social media across the business. The steps on your roadmap should seek to achieve both objectives.
 
5.       Use the right resources
Think about what can be achieved internally.  For example, do you have sufficient head count to ensure that content is being produced and moderated appropriately?  In some cases, engaging a suitably qualified external agency to assist you company to produce, manage and moderate content, may be a cost-effective and advantageous option.  For example, you may be able to structure the contractual arrangement to pass risk regarding IPR infringements and other liability onto the agency.
Remember: inaccurate or defamatory social media content can prove catastrophic; if you are you out-sourcing the generation and moderation of your social media content, make sure obligations are clearly defined and the party you are using is sufficiently experienced to manage the task.
 
6.       Be aware of the contractual and regulatory landscape
Social media is an area abundant in contract and privacy terms.  As with any other third party contracts, the in-house lawyer should be involved in the review and acceptance of these.  Examples can include:
  • terms and conditions relating to social media platforms themselves (Facebook, Twitter etc)
  • if you use technology platforms for consolidating and managing content, agreements in place with the supplier/s
  • contract/s with moderation agencies
  • terms relating to use of Community Managers
Further information: On 23 May 2012 we will be hosting a seminar on Social Media governance.  The session will expand on the matters outlined in this article, and will provide practical advice for in-house counsel and others working in the area of social media.  If you would like to attend, please register your interest here.
 
For more information, please contact Paul Garland