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Michael Scutt

Michael Scutt is Head of Employment and Dispute Resolution at Crane & Staples Solicitors in Welwyn Garden City. He also writes the Jobsworth blog on employment law.

SEO

Humans love miracles. Even if you don’t believe that Jesus turned water into wine or fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish, miracle cures still attract many. The 19th century gave us snake oil salesmen whose products could cure all ills. Even today people still believe in losing weight through taking obscure supplements, or preventing illness and disease with a tablet (probably organic).

The desire for quick results was always going to appeal in the digital arena, no more so than when the Holy Grail is not shedding a few pounds but getting to the top spot on Google (organically of course). In a world where being found easily online is seen as the essential route to business success, it is not surprising that so many modern day snake oil salesmen offer their services alongside the genuine and knowledgeable. Search engine consultants offer modern digital miracles, enticing new punters with promises to get your business to the top of Google’s organic search results.

Most of us are familiar with reports of employees being disciplined for posting inappropriate material on social media platforms, or employers over-reacting and dismissing an employee when a warning or, even, some training, might have been more productive. There seems to be a greater awareness of the risk even if there is not any greater understanding of how to manage that risk.

Either employees hope their posts, tweets, videos and status updates will never come to light or they do not care if they do. Given the abundance of social media platforms these days, that may not be a bad bet. After all, are your colleagues on Path? Or Pinterest? What about Google+, which now seems to be gaining traction two years after launching? According to the website NewMedia Trend Watch, nearly two-thirds of UK internet users have an active Facebook account and that probably explains why most cases that come to light involve unwise status updates on that platform.

How long does it take for an event to become a fixture in the landscape? The London marathon managed to do it following its first running in 1981 and has not looked back since. Another event, not quite on the same scale perhaps, looks set to make a similar impact in the legal arena. Last month saw the second Reinvent Law Conference at Centrepoint in London. Last year it was called LawTechCamp 2012, but otherwise the same format was used and the only other change was sponsorship by LexisNexis. It became so popular during the afternoon that #reinventlaw started trending on Twitter.

Social media is no longer the bright shiny new toy of a couple of years ago. The initial rush to blog and tweet has passed. New platforms come along and spark some Pinterest (pinterest.com), while others like Google+ briefly flourish then fade. Businesses still face the perennial worry of employees posting inappropriate material on Facebook and Twitter.

In a previous article Michael Scutt wrote about the risks employers face from the use by employees of social media and recommended that businesses have a social media policy. Here he suggests an appropriate policy.

Social media is not going to go away. Businesses need to adapt to using these tools to promote their businesses whilst protecting themselves at the same time. Employers are in a difficult position when it comes to regulating how their employees use social media because it impacts upon issues of fundamental importance, such as freedom of expression and privacy. There are several areas that cause difficulty.