Social Media Law

The law on social media marketing – part 1

The internet offers businesses huge potential to foster their advertising and image strategies for low financial outlay. It is hardly surprising then, that many German businesses maintain online profiles to keep their brand fresh.

social media marketing - choosing the correct profile © Petr Vaclavek / Fotolia.com

social media marketing – choosing the correct profile © Petr Vaclavek / Fotolia.com

The law on social media marketing

Whether businesses use Facebook fan pages, blogs or Twitter, the possibilities are limitless. Or are they?

This series presents an overview of the steps which businesses can take to ensure their social media marketing strategies remain legal.

Part 1 – Choose the correct profile

Many social media networks have strict requirements for business profiles. For example, Facebook differentiates between personal profiles of individuals and so-called ‘fan pages’ of businesses or public authorities.

Facebook fan pages feature a ‘like button’ which enables fans to automatically follow the business’ latest news.

Facebook’s conditions of use state that businesses are not permitted to set up personal profiles, but must instead use fan pages.

If businesses do not follow these conditions, their online marketing presence is likely to be blocked. Indeed, the social media network regularly blocks accounts and often does so without warning.

It is possible to convert a profile; however fans can often be lost. This occurred in the case of Munich’s fan page which was blocked shortly after Facebook modified the user conditions to ensure that city authorities create business profiles. Over 40,000 fans were unable to access content on the profile for some time.

Lost investment

A blocked profile and loosing fans can be particularly infuriating if a business has already invested time and money in developing the marketing strategy.

It is therefore advisable to study the corresponding social network’s terms and conditions of use and to choose the correct profile before setting up a fan page.

The terms of use for some of the most popular social networks are available here: Facebook, Twitter, Google+

Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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