Donna Martin, social media expert and lawyer at London and Surrey lawyers Mackrell Turner Garrett, has given an in-depth breakout session on the importance of social media to luxury brands.

Donna, along with Mackrell Turner Garrett managing partner Nigel Rowley, addressed delegates at the 2013 Luxury Law Summit, organised by the Global Legal Post and the International Herald Tribune.

As the use of social media grows, it is important that employers know what their employees are saying about them online in order to minimise any risk of reputational damage.

“Luxury markets use of social media is of course contradictory – luxury brands are by their very nature exclusive, whereas social media opens up a brand to the mass market,” said Donna.

“There are of course inherent legal risks with utilising social media, from both external and internal sources.

“Internal risks come from employees posting inappropriate comments, while external risks come from hackers, both of which luxury brands need to protect against.

“At the summit we talked to the representatives from luxury brands regarding who within the organisation should be responsible for the corporate use of social media. It is important that the brand has a risk strategy in place, and know how to survive a social media disaster and potential litigation.

“Luxury brands need to be aware of the potential damage to brand reputation where employees associate themselves with their employer online.”

Donna highlighted not only the need to produce a social media policy, but also to ensure that it is implemented.

“Any company who uses social media as a platform, regardless of size, should ensure that they have a social media policy in place,” she said.

“The policy should detail exactly who has the authority to post, and guidelines as to what is acceptable, together with examples. Training does need to be provided to those who post on the company’s behalf and the policy should be reviewed regularly to ensure that it complies with current legislation.

“Of course we should reiterate that it is not simply enough for luxury brands to have a social media policy, senior executives must ensure that it is implemented correctly in order for it to be successful.”

The Luxury Law Summit brought together 170 luxury business leaders and legal teams for a day of debate focused on key issues impacting upon the business of luxury brand development and retail.