Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Innovation vs. Litigation

Source: http://adage.com/digitalnext/article?article_id=131858

Why Brands and Social Media Have a Legal Challenge

Posted by David Armano on 10.20.08 @ 11:30 AM

Take a good look at the "curve" visual that goes along with this post. Look familiar? It should.

Increasingly, as I talk to folks from a variety of large brands and companies, I'm seeing an interesting shift. Not only is there a desire from individuals within large corporations, brands and businesses to leverage social media in some capacity, but increasingly there's an interest in going beyond "viral." After my talk at the the Web 2.0 Conference in New York, an individual who worked in the health-care sector approached me. He said something along these lines: "I believe in everything you just said and I think there is tremendous opportunity for my company to participate in social networks, but each time we try to initiate something, our legal department shoots it down." 

Though sectors like health care are especially sensitive, I've heard similar tales from others. And yet there seem to be some examples of big brands that get out there and participate in social networks despite the risks. Dell, one of the more well-known case studies, has been doing it for years, through blogs, communities it's created and by jumping into a number of networks. Zappos has taken to extending its customer experience across social channels such as Twitter. Whole Foods has a useful presence on Facebook, where one of its representatives is active in the discussion boards, not only alerting members to promotions but also encouraging them to share recipes. Is legal asleep at the wheel of these companies?