How to run a business blog?

How to run a business blog?

If you publicly disseminate any information, you have to comply with many different laws. Everyone remembers the ban on extremism, on insulting representatives of the authorities and foul language, and on protecting the feelings of believers. But there are other restrictions as well. I will talk about what is useful to know for marketers, company ambassadors and professionals who promote their personal brand.

A general note: Liability for the violations described below may apply not only to the person who published the post, but also to the organization for which he or she works. The organization will not always be held liable, but it is worth keeping this possibility in mind.

1. Trade Secrets

Your customer may not like the fact that you are sharing your experience with them on social media. A customer may consider information about projects to be a trade secret. To understand which things you can publish and which you shouldn't, you need to study the terms of confidentiality you have agreed with the customer. These can be found directly in the contract under which you perform the work (selling goods, licenses, providing services, etc.) or in a separate agreement - a non-disclosure agreement or in short NDA.

For breach of confidentiality, the customer can recover damages from you or, if it is stipulated in the contract, a fine.

Also, for disclosure of trade secrets can lead to criminal liability.

If the project you want to talk about is confidential, but you really want to share your experience, you can ask the customer for permission. His written consent will override any agreements on trade secrets.

2. Personal information

You would be breaking the law if you disclose personal information in your posts without the consent of its owner.

Personal information is any information that allows you to accurately identify a person. It includes name, picture of a person, place of residence, date of birth, telephone number, e-mail address, place of work, education, profession. There is no closed list of information that is personal data. Some data may or may not be recognized as personal data depending on the specific situation.

Other people's personal data can only be processed with the consent of the person to whom it relates. Processing personal data is any operation with it, such as collecting, recording, systematizing, accumulating, storing, storing, clarifying, using, transmitting, distributing. This list is also open.

A very important clarification: since recently, the publication of one's personal data does not mean consent to its processing. This means that you may not use a person's photo without his consent, even if he himself posted it on his Facebook page.

For the disclosure of personal data, its owner can charge you for damages and compensation for moral damage.

3. Unfair competition

You will violate the law if your online conduct has the characteristics of unfair competition.

Unfair competition is any action which:

  • Aimed at gaining an advantage in business activities,
  • contrary to the law, good faith, reasonableness and fairness and
  • have caused or may cause losses to competitors or have caused or may cause damage to their business reputation.

Unfair competition is prohibited. There is no exhaustive list of actions that fall under this definition. This means that any behavior that fits this description can be considered a violation of the law. Still, there are specific examples of unfair competition in the law. Let's consider those that fit the subject matter of this article more than others.

Defamation and Misrepresentation

Defamation is the dissemination of false, inaccurate or distorted information about other organizations and their products. Defamation can cause damage to the organization and/or damage its business reputation. Misrepresentation is the false information that an organization spreads about itself and the products it sells. To oversimplify, the difference is: discrediting is lying about competitors, misleading is lying about oneself.

Discredit and misrepresentation are found in relation to:

  • the quality, properties, purpose of goods, the way it is made or used, the results of its use, suitability for some purpose,
  • the availability and quantity of goods on the market, the possibility of its purchase, the size of the demand for it,
  • the place of manufacture and manufacturer of the goods, warranty obligations,
  • conditions of sale of goods, including their price.

Improper Comparison

Compare your organization or product with a competitor or their product with care. Comparisons that:

  1. Do not identify the specific characteristics or parameters being compared,
  2. Cannot be objectively verified, are based solely on insignificant or incomparable facts and contain a negative evaluation of a competitor or its products.

Be especially careful to use the words "best," "first," "number one," "most," "only," "only" and similar words in reference to your company and the products you sell. You can't just call your services the best on the market.

You can only use such words in commercial offers, advertisements, descriptions of project experience, and in any other cases if:

    there is a reference to the specific characteristics and parameters that you are comparing,

    the result of comparison is confirmed objectively (for example, by an expert study).

If you have not conducted a special study that confirms the "bestness," "firstness," "self" and "onlyness" of you or your products, it is better to refuse to use these words.

Creating Confusion

Confusion is a situation in which your customers may confuse you or the products you sell with other companies and their products.

It is prohibited to create confusion in the eyes of your customers in any way, including:

  • Illegal use of other people's trademarks,
  • Use of signs that are confusingly similar to others' trademarks,
  • copying or imitation of the appearance of goods, their packaging, label, name, color scheme, trade style in general or other elements that differentiate a competitor or its products.

Liability for violation of competition - fines and disqualification of the company's management (prohibition to hold office). 

4. Advertising

Under certain circumstances, what you post on the Internet may be advertising.

Advertising is information disseminated in any manner, in any form, and by any means, addressed to an indefinite circle of people and intended to:

  1. attracting attention to you or your products,
  2. generate or maintain interest in you or your products and
  3. market your company or your products.

It is better not to post posts, videos or any other information that looks like an advertisement at all before your lawyer sees it. There are too many nuances involved.

Advertising should not be a manifestation of unfair competition. This means that everything in the previous paragraph is relevant to it. There are additional requirements, of which there are many. Let's look at some of them.

  • 4.1 Advertising must not defame anyone's honor, dignity or business reputation.

This is simple: black PR is forbidden by law.

  • 4.2 Advertising should not encourage lawbreaking, violence or cruelty, or contain profanity, insults, or obscenities.

This is also clear: love & peace.

  • 4.3 Advertising should not create a negative attitude toward or judge those who do not use your products.

You can't write in an ad like this:

    "If your friend hasn't bought our razor yet, he just doesn't understand life yet."

    "We wouldn't give a hand to someone who still doesn't use our antivirus."

5. Offer

An offer is an offer to enter into a contract. As a general rule, you cannot refuse an offer that its recipient has already received. This means that if the person you have sent an offer agrees with your proposal to conclude a contract (accepts the offer), the contract will be concluded on the terms of the offer. Such an agreement will be legally binding, and its execution can be sought in court. The law distinguishes a public offer - an offer to conclude a contract, which is addressed to anyone.

A personal message under certain circumstances can become an offer, and a post in a social network - a public offer. Unless you plan to enter into a contract without any further discussion, you should not write texts that look like offers.

How do you know if your text is similar to an offer or not? According to the law, an offer must:

  • explicitly express the intention to conclude a contract 
  • contain all the essential terms of the contract.