Before accepting work from a client, be sure to gain a thorough understanding of how you as a social media and community manager are to be managed. During interviews, consider asking the following questions:
- How much of the content I produce as a community manager will require approval before it is posted?
- What types of posts will require review from other parties? Will I only need to get approval for formal posts like articles and blog posts, or will approval also be required for smaller, more informal posts, such as Facebook page posts and tweets?
- Are there any restrictions with how I can respond to or interact with clients?
- Are there certain company-related subjects it is important that I not to talk about over social media?
- Are there any industry-related regulations that dictate the type of content that can be shared on the company's website and social media accounts?
The answers you get may make you think twice about accepting some clients or choosing to work with some employers. Some community managers are required to work in environments that are so restrictive, it is nearly impossible to do effective work.
If, for example, you end up working for a medical company that is, due to federal regulations, not able to easily engage with customers through its website and not permitted to say many things via social media, you will have a very hard time building a community. If you work for a large corporation that requires approval from multiple parties for every tweet and retweet you send out, your speed, efficiency, and responsiveness (essential elements of a successful social media and community manager) will be significantly diminished.
Though money and employment are great, accepting work that prevents you from making an impact as a social media and community manager may dampen your reputation and future career prospects (future clients and employers who review your previous work will not know why your work for a particularly restrictive employer did not bring about significant change).
In addition to understanding what a client or employer's rules are with regard to social media and community management, it is essential that you know what you're agreeing to when signing an employment contract.
Pay attention to:
- Whether the contract stipulates that you cannot work for other clients during your time with the company in question (this could be a deal breaker if you need to do additional freelance work on the side while working for this particular client)
- Whether the contract locks you in to work for a longer-than-desirable period
- Clauses that lay claim to your intellectual property in a manner that you consider to be beyond the bounds of a reasonable employment contract
- Clauses that stipulate how, where, and when you work that might not jive well with your personal work schedule and methods
- Clauses that would prevent you from working with certain clients even after finishing work with the company in question
Don't be afraid to negotiate specific terms to ensure that you can maintain an optimal relationship while not endangering your career.
Communities and Liability
- Anything posted to the site is not confidential
- Users indemnify and hold the company harmless of all damages, costs, and losses related to third party investigations or claims
- The company may use information posted to its website in any way it sees fit
- Site admins maintain the right to remove content at any time
- Members cannot post, upload, or share content that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise illegal
- Members cannot post, upload, or share content that violates others' copyright
- Members may not discuss information (especially prices, sales territories, discounts, etc.) that might be misconstrued as anticompetitive activity (this issue applies more to B2B communities than consumer-facing sites)
To get an idea of other liability-reducing stipulations companies use, review their Terms of Service. Here are the user agreements of some of the world's biggest online communities:
- Facebook's Terms of Service
- Twitter's Terms of Service
- Google+ Pages Additional Terms of Service
- Pinterest's Terms of Service
- Tumblr's Terms of Service
- LinkedIn's User Agreement
It is highly unlikely that you will be involved in a company's Terms of Service creation (typically, lawyers like to step in for that sort of work), however it is well worth reviewing them and suggesting changes should your clients' existing ToS not address community-related actions, such as uploading and sharing content on the company website.
In addition to making users agree not to engage in illegal actions while using your client's website, you must monitor their posts to ensure that they stick to their agreements. Should you come across illegal content, immediately take it down. Though antitrust issues are not likely to crop up on consumer-facing websites, you do need to watch out for language that could be interpreted as defamatory, and you do need to crack down on copyright infringement when someone has blatantly misused others' intellectual property.
Yes, the Communications Decency Act may protect you and your clients from a certain amount of liability, but your protections will quickly slip away should it become apparent that you were fully aware of illegal content or activity on your site and did not do anything to address it. Same goes for the Digital Millenium Copyright Act- your safe harbor disappears as soon as you choose not to properly address DMCA complaints or knowingly let copyright-violating material float around your site.
The Digital Millenium Copyright Act deserves extra attention. Check to make sure your clients have probably set up clear means on their websites through which people may submit DMCA complaints, named a DMCA agent, and created a process for addressing complaints fairly and efficiently. Should you find a client's copyright violation reporting system to be lackluster, make sure it is properly amended.
If your client publishes online content that it would not like to see copied without permission, you would also benefit form understanding how to protect and defend online content from theft and send DMCA complaints to copyright violators.
Also make sure that your clients have a sound internal system for sourcing images. Should you discover that they're pulling copyrighted images from Google Image searches, show them why doing so may get them in trouble, burnish their online reputation, and destroy any semblance of digital competence they might have. Teach them how to find images they have the right to use, such as royalty-free stock photos, public domain images, and photos with Creative Commons licenses. Show them how to use Creative Commons-licensed images properly.
It should go without saying that you, personally, treat copyright with care. Content (images, audio, etc.) you use for campaigns, blog posts, promotions, tutorials, videos, and podcasts should always be properly used. If you are working with a community that has trouble with copyright law, it is up to you to set a good precedent.
Our goal is to never charge for the educational materials we provide. If you’d like to give back, please share our lessons (and Gigaverse in general) with your friends. Who knows- you might introduce someone to an entirely new career path and change their life!
Only take this lesson’s quiz if you are enrolled in the course and want to prove your skills and earn official credentials. Credentials related to a course are useful if you would like to find work related to this course’s career, as we direct businesses and entrepreneurs to our membership page when they approach us looking for specialists.
Finally, make sure you have reviewed this lesson’s required reading (displayed at the top right of the page) before taking the quiz- you will be tested on information covered in those guides!