The Coca Cola Company and its Social Media Policy
In this week’s blog, I will discuss the legal risks associated with The Coca Cola Company as a result of their participation in social media. These risks may be internal (from employees and contractors) or external or a combination of both. Firstly, I will go on to introduce The Coca Cola Company and the services and products it offers and then introduce the company’s social media policy.
The Coca Cola Company
The Coca Cola Company was founded in 1886 by John Pemberton. The Company has been serving the refreshing drink for 125 years. The Company has more than 500 brands and 3,500 beverage products and sell 1.7 billion servings per day in over 200 countries. The Company operates in the beverage industry with 139,600 worldwide employees.
Its Social Media Policy
Organisations that participate in social media face many risks from their own staff and third parties. These are just some of the risks that an organisation may face:
- The conduct of employees,
- Copyright breach,
- Misleading and deceptive conduct;
- Defamation and
- Reputation risk.
The Coca Cola Company has embraced social media in branding their products and engaging in debates and discussions with their customers. The Company has developed a set of Online Social Media Principles that will aid its associates to participate in the marketing and communications of The Company. The Company respects the rights of its associates by allowing its customers to use blogs and other social media tools not only as a form of self-expression, but to also further the Company’s business. However, in saying this, the Company has developed the following policies:
- Adhere to the Code of Business Conduct and other applicable policies: All Company associates, from the Chairman right down to the operational staff, are subject to adhere to this policy. This policy covers the disclosure of information and applies to an associate’s personal activity online.
- You are responsible for your actions: Anything that an associate posts can potentially tarnish the Company’s image will ultimately be your responsibility.
- Be a “scout” for compliments and criticism: If you are either an associate or unofficial associate of the Company, The Coca Cola Company urges all participants to monitor the social media landscape. If an associate comes across positive or negative remarks about the Company or its brands online, the Company urges that they report the comments.
- Let the subject matter experts respond to negative posts: If an associate comes across negative or disparaging posts about the Company or its brands, or see third parties trying to spark negative conversations, they must pass the posts on to an official spokesperson that are trained to address such comments.
- Be conscious when mixing business and personal lives: Personal and business are likely to intersect in the online community. It is therefore an associate’s responsibility to make sure they do not publish any negative and confidential information about the Company online that can be seen by more than friends and family. Associates must also remember to never disclose non‐public information of the Company (including confidential information), and must be aware that legal action can be taken.
It is crucial that organisations have a social media policy in place to not only protect their reputation by to also protect their employees and consumers.