Many South Dakota businesses encourage their employees to create social media accounts like Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook to develop customer and client relationships. However, because employees often use these accounts for personal and business purposes, the potential for disputes over ownership is significant.
Several courts have recently analyzed the problems that can occur when departing employees leave with their business social media accounts and contacts. These court decisions emphasize the most important step a South Dakota business can take in protecting its social media accounts:
The # 1 Tip - Define social media account ownership in company policies and employee agreements.
One recent lawsuit involved a company that used Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to market its services. However, the company had no written social media policy or employee agreement concerning ownership of their business social media accounts.
Based on the court's opinion, it's clear that the company may have avoided this dispute altogether had the parties entered into a clearly written employment agreement clarifying the social media account's ownership.
If you have an employment agreement or company policy, make sure that it is clear who (either the employer or the employee) owns the social media account.
A solid agreement defining social media ownership rights can often eliminate lawsuits and allow a South Dakota business to protect its content and brand in the social media universe.