Why Have a Social Media Policy?

By | Internet Lawyer, Website Lawyer, Website Legal Documents | No Comments

social media policiesMany small business owners mistakenly believe that a social media policy is only for large companies with many employees. In fact, social media policies are very important for businesses of all sizes.

What is a social media policy?

A social media policy is your business’ way of telling employees and independent contractors in advance what you consider to be acceptable and unacceptable use of social networking sites like Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, Twitter, and others.

This legal document is important because it helps you protect your online reputation. You don’t want those working for you to identify their affiliation with your business at the same time they’re posting content on social networks that could hurt your business.

Let’s face it. It’s expensive and time-consuming to recover your reputation on the Internet after someone associated with your business has done something offensive that gets tied to your company simply because they do work for you. You will pay a bundle to reputation management businesss to clean up an online mess after the fact.

Can a social media policy bulletproof your business from improper use of Facebook and other social networking websites? No. However, your policy can significantly reduce your risk that an employee or freelancer doing work for your company will harm your reputation.

What should you put in your social media policy? That’s something for you to discuss with your Internet attorney.

1099 Tax Forms Hell: New IRS Mandate For Your Business

By | Internet Lawyer | No Comments

If the socialized medicine wasn’t enough of a kick in the teeth for entrepreneurs, just wait until you get to file IRS 1099 tax forms all of the time.

Yes, that’s right. Obamacare amended the Internal Revenue Code ( IRC 6041 ) for biz deals absolutely unrelated to health care.

The new law will require getting info from your vendors of goods and services you pay more than 600 bucks in a year and issuing IRS 1099 forms to them plus reporting the payments to the IRS.

This ridiculous expansion appears to cover biz computer purchases, paying freelancers to do web design, and a million other things small business owners pay for online and offline.

Don’t just take my word for it. You can Google the issue. Or, if  you want a great summary of it, check out Chris Edwards’ blog post Costly IRS Mandate Slipped into Health Bill.

Be sure to huddle with your business lawyer and accountant to minimize your tax burden…and vote to throw the bums out of office who passed this piece of garbage into law. Remember that the IRS had nothing to do with this travesty. It got dumped on the agency by Congress and the President.

What’s the Biggest Legal Issue Small Business Owners Face?

By | Internet Lawyer | No Comments

Time for another contest…

Here’s the question: “What’s the Biggest Legal Issue Small Business
Owners Face?”

It can be any legal issue: brick-and-mortar (offline) or Internet
(online).

What can you win?

1. If your entry is selected as the best (my discretion as judge),
you’ll get a copy of Dan Kennedy’s “No B.S. Marketing to the
Affluent” book shipped to you. Packed with info, it is one of his
best.

2. By simply entering the contest, you’ll get an advance copy of
the guide I’ll write based on the best entry, i.e. you’ll get the
answer to the winning question.

Fair enough?

How to enter?

Simply use the contact form to submit your entry no later than February 18, 2009 (next
Wednesday).

I look forward to reading your entry.

Good luck!

-Mike

P.S. Some legalese. Contest void where prohibited by law.

Blog Spam, NoFollow, and the FTC

By | Internet Lawyer | No Comments

Jennifer Laycock provides an interesting take on NoFollow, blog spamming, paid text links, and the role of the Federal Trade Commission and Google. I do see the FTC taking a more active role against blog spammers, including the covert paid word-of-mouth campaigns one sees that are really no different than the e-mail spam that fills your inbox.

However, she overestimates the likelihood that small business owners are going to be injured because they can’t afford to compete with larger competitors for paid stealth links.

Most successful Internet marketers I know are able to do very well in the search engine rankings without paying a dime for links. Of course, they’re not going to share the how-to with everyone.

I encourage you to seriously consider DoFollow for your blog. UPDATE – See comment below.

If you’re using WordPress, you can take care of the spam issue with Lucia’s LinkLove and Spam Karma 2 plugins while rewarding bloggers who provide substantive comments with the links they deserve.

Beware of Invention Promotion Companies

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This scam preys on small business owners looking to protect an invention. The so-called “promotion company” will charge a hefty fee to “evaluate” the invention. The results of the evaluation pretty much hinge on the ability to pay, i.e. if you pay the fee, the company will say that your invention is wonderful with plenty of potential.

Of course, this leads to additional scams. One variation is to charge a large amount of money to get legal protection (patent, copyright, trademark, etc.). Or you could be offered a bogus marketing plan that will take more money from your wallet. If you happen to have a truly worthwhile invention, expect the company to push you to sign over your rights to it for little or no money.

This week, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a civil contempt action against four people and eight businesses for alleged deceptive trade practices that include some of the misconduct that I’ve described here.

What this means is that the defendants were already nailed in court but continued to operate.

If you’ve got an invention or other intellectual property to protect, use a reputable business attorney if you don’t know how to do the work yourself.

Hat tip to ConsumerAffairs.com