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UK Companies Concerned About Social Media Legal Risks, but Over 50% Do Not Consider It a Priority

Social Media Litigation Is Increasing and New Research Reveals Businesses Should Act Now to Protect Reputation and Avoid Costly Lawsuits

LONDON -- (Marketwire) -- 02/07/13 -- A new research study of UK companies reveals that 53% of UK businesses do not consider social media legal risks to be an issue or priority. Yet three quarters are concerned most about the legal threats posed by disclosure of confidential information on social networks. Confidentiality is not the only concern. So too is data gathered from social (57%), copyright infringement (65%) and the thorny issue of who owns the company social media profiles (53%).

The research conducted by social media consultancy, immediate future, also reveals a knowledge gap on what laws and regulations might apply to social media. Over 68% of respondents said they had a basic, beginners or no personal knowledge of social media laws.

Katy Howell, CEO at immediate future, says, "Social media is a serious business. Companies are increasingly connecting and interacting with customers, exposing the business to increasing legal ramifications. There is a need for more information, education and greater investment of time to get up to speed with the legal aspects of social media.

"Some companies are only starting to outline guidelines and one fifth of those who responded did not have a social media policy at all. Well aware of the legal threats, businesses should now start planning, training and developing processes and structures to protect the company".

92% of respondents have some professional social media involvement in social media. Yet almost two thirds are not very aware of social platform 'Terms of Use'.

Melissa Powys-Rodrigues, Associate, Employment solicitor at Colman Coyle, contributed the legal expertise to the research study. Powys Rodrigues makes the point,

"Failure to set parameters for your employees in and out of the workplace could have a detrimental effect on your business, its strategy, reputation and overall, profit. Take control by implementing a social media policy and updating and tailoring your employment contracts. This will offer you much more certainty and mitigation if things do not go to plan."

Over half (52%) of respondents manage promotions, competitions or endorsements in social media. Almost all (97%) ensure competitions are protected by Terms & Conditions. However, when it comes to advertising, sponsorship or endorsement only 6% are very aware of Cap Code and ASA regulations with only 29% using hashtags to indicate the activity as advertising.

The study analyses 183 responses from UK Companies from a diverse range of industries; and over half those responding were from companies with revenues over £50m.

The full research report can be downloaded free at

Notes to editors
For information please contact Katy Howell on 0845 408 2031 or [email protected]

  • Infographic is available at or on request in Jpeg format
  • Graphs and charts from the full report are available on request

About immediate future
immediate future is one of the most respected independent social media consultancies in the UK. Planning is core to our social business consultancy and community management services. With nine years' social media experience, we help brands by creating robust, measureable social media strategies, and support initiatives with implementation -- building client capabilities with training and mentoring.

immediate future are official social media trainers for the Institute of Direct Marketing (Diploma and Certificate) and Chartered Institute of Marketing. We've authored book chapters, contributed to the IAB social media council and are active members of the CiPR social media panel.

Sony Europe, Staples Europe, Ideal Shopping Direct, BBC, Diageo Global, Sony Music, Ubisoft, Selfridges, Indesit, Playstation, Hotpoint, JD Williams, General Medical Council (GMC), Festo, Tealeaf, HSBC, BT, ASOS, Mirror Group, Cancer Research, NSPCC, EMI, AVG, Ferrero and GoView (PSP and Sky joint venture).

For more information please visit:

About Colman Coyle
Colman Coyle LLP is a Legal 500 ranked firm of solicitors widely respected for their straight talking and forward thinking legal advice. Established in 1984 they are a boutique firm with an experienced team of commercial lawyers based in Central London. Their clients range from well-known financial institutions and retailers to smaller niche businesses. The number of businesses they are advising on legal issues relating to the use of social media is rising rapidly.

For more information please contact Vikki Bentwood (0)20 7354 3000 or [email protected],

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