Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, have become an integral tool for businesses to develop their online presence and nurture authentic customer connections. However, a balance must be struck between utilizing social networks to promote a brand and mitigating the potential risks that could lead to liability. Business owners should be prepared to evolve with these fast-paced platforms to capitalize on the vast opportunities available, yet appropriately recognize and manage the associated risk.
While there are undoubtedly numerous risks associated with social networking, the following are a few key areas business owners should be mindful of: (1) damage to brand reputation; (2) inadvertent disclosure of confidential information; (3) legal, regulatory, and compliance violations, and (4) identity theft and hacking.
The risks of social media usage can understandably seem intimidating. However, the following practices preemptively address these risks and minimize liability:
- Create a social media policy: A social media policy provides clear guidance and expectations for employees to better understand their obligations and acceptable use when engaging with social media. A social media policy should include expectations about password strength, content monitoring, and interacting with the public. Clearly defining how social media can and cannot be used pro-actively manages risk arising in an employment context.
- Deal with negative feedback effectively: Feedback provides a business with an opportunity to better understand the needs and satisfaction of customers. However, negative feedback posted on a business’s social media page can be detrimental in a matter of seconds if not appropriately addressed. Have a plan in place for responding to customer or client feedback, both positive and negative, in a way that demonstrates excellent customer service and protects the brand.
- Protect login information and utilize privacy settings: Social media sites increase the likelihood of security breaches. Beyond identity theft, hackers may delight in creating their own content on your site. Be intentional when determining which, if any, employees will have access to the business’s social media login information and set clear expectations for how these employees are to treat this information. Take the time to explore the privacy settings available on each social media platform and adjust them accordingly.
- Exercise good judgment and common sense. Remember,—the internet is forever. While you may be able to “delete” content from a social media site, that does not mean the content is gone forever. Content published on a social media site can be shared with a simple click, and a screenshot can capture a post that may subsequently be deleted. Take control of the content curated for your social media and think before you post.
If your company is in a social media conundrum, or you would like help in drafting a social media policy, please contact us.