Here's a common scenario: A social media team develops the plan for an innovative social program. The team members race enthusiastically toward the finish line, putting all their energy into the many creative, technical, and logistical issues involved in designing a program and getting it online. Finally, just weeks or days before launch—or in some cases, even the day after launch—suddenly someone remembers, "Oh, yeah. All programs need legal approval."

The program is then dropped in the laps of the lawyers as a near fait accompli.

Enter Company Lawyers

Company lawyers may not know much about social. Moreover, they aren't given much background about why the program is important or how the company will benefit. All they can see is exposure to new and uncertain risk, and a marketing department that doesn't seem to take the risk seriously or to proactively manage the issues. A company lawyer's job to protect the company from risk, including risks that shoot-from-the-hip employees haven't considered.

All that translates to a quick no.

In the case of one Fortune 20 brand, a $10 million campaign involving network television, print, packaging, digital, and social was brought to legal just three weeks before launch.

Unfortunately, neither the team nor the creative digital agency had considered that the centerpiece of the program—photos uploaded by customers—might need to be moderated. Legal shut this one down in seconds.

Protecting your company while getting a social program launched requires, first and foremost, that you build a strong collaborative partnership with your legal team. Companies in regulated environments have learned how to partner with legal not just to avoid a "no" but to make a better program with fewer mistakes.

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image of Peter Friedman

Peter Friedman is the founder, chairman, and CEO of LiveWorld, a trusted social media partner to some of the world's largest brands. He is the author of The CMO's Social Media Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide for Leading Marketing Teams in the Social Media World.

Twitter: @PeterFriedman

LinkedIn: Peter Friedman