We talked a little bit today at SMB15 about getting over legal hurdles within a company in order to use social media, and how to convince decision-makers – the legal department – that it’s worth it.
A lot of great points were made, however there’s one piece of the conversation they left out, and one that I feel is really important (and should be considered first) when approaching this process internally.
You first have to have a legal structure that has considered social media before you talk about jumping over hurdles.
We work with a few clients in the higher ed space, which, in case you didn’t know, has legal walls and red tape up the wazoo. We’re often confronted with the “legal department” problem, and if it doesn’t completely stop the process, it’s a cause for major hesitation.
What I continually say to these clients and anyone in this position is:
- Your current legal system has not considered social media as part of the business, therefore, it hasn’t considered it as something that needs stipulations.
- The first reaction to something that is not currently built into the legal framework of an organization is to say no to it.
- It usually follows that the way it is handled is on a case-by-case basis with the attempt to fit it somewhere into this system that was not built to support it.
- Therefore, your first order of business is to sit down as a team to decide on how social media fits into your organization, and what legal framework needs to put into place to support that effort.
Blog posts should not have a 2-week approval process just because legal is trying to determine how those blog posts should be considered with a system that has, until then, only support traditional pieces of marketing content or media. It should have a 2-week approval process (which, by the way, makes your blog posting obsolete, but that’s another issue) only after legal has set out rules and regulations that govern the use of social media within the organization.
Social media needs to be accepted as a business process, and built into the legal system before you can begin to have the right conversations about what’s legally working and what’s not.
Don’t just try to cram a social media program into your existing legal structure. Push legal to update that legal structure to support your social media program. If it means making a separate argument for social media just for legal, so be it.
The important thing is to make legal an important part of the social media integration process of your organization from the get-go. Don’t wait until you reach your first hurdle.