If you are thinking, “Well, I’m not using social media in my business. So I don’t have to worry about business risks with social media”, read on.
Social media is now a main stream form of communication. You might not be using social media for your business. (Why are you leaving so much change on the table for your competitors?)
BUT some if not all of your employees are probably actively engaged in the virtual social world on their own accounts. And your customers and prospects may well be talking about your products & services out there in the Web 2.0 world.
And what are they saying about your business?
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. – Winston Churchill
With social media, everything gets around the whole world with the click of a mouse. And that is reason enough to address social media as part of your risk management (you do have a risk management framework in place, don’t you?) and establish social media policies in your business.
2 Key Reasons For Managing Social Media Risks
Word-of-mouth” has always been the most powerful marketing tool. People are more likely to buy things based on the recommendations of other consumers like them.
Social media is essentially ‘word of mouth’ on steroids. And human nature being what it is, there is the temptation to ‘game’ the system by posting self-generated reviews and testimonials either anonymously or under false names in Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and other review sites, etc.
The publication of false testimonials and reviews – called ‘astroturfing’ – is prohibited by law in most countries. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US has already prosecuted businesses for engaging this type of conduct.
In Australia, the Australian Consumer Law has a provision that explicitly prohibits false testimonials. There are severe penalties for breach of this provision. Outsourcing your social media marketing to advertising or marketing agencies or contractors does not relieve you of the responsibility to ensure compliance with the law. You also want to ensure that your own employees, especially those in the sales and marketing function, don’t use ‘astroturfing’ in a mad rash of overenthusiasm in driving sales.
Social media is a two-edged sword.
It provides tremendous opportunities for small and medium businesses (SMBs) to build a strong brand presence both globally and domestically without breaking the bank. But it can also bite you very badly if you do not effectively manage your communications in these channels.
Even big companies like Coles, Coca-Cola and Mortein – to name but a few – have made horrible gaffes in social media marketing. In these cases, the unfortunate gaffes were due to misjudgement of tactics eg use of “complete this sentence.” game to encourage customer engagement. However, they have the resources and wherewithal to respond very quickly to limit the potential damage.
But what happens when your employees make inappropriate comments about your business in his or her personal Facebook or Twitter accounts? The judgement in the Linfox case indicates that if your business does not have a social media policy in place, then you will not be take disciplinary action against that employee for making those comments in social media channels.
How To Manage Your Social Media Risks
Social media is part and parcel of life today. Every business needs to have a social media strategy today, regardless of whether it uses social media in its business or not.
Complispace has excellent 5-part blog series titled Social Media for Employers. It helps you identify and manage your social media risks and how to go about establishing a social media policy for your business. Here are the links to the first 4 parts (Part 5 has not been released at the time of writing – keep an eye out for it!).
Complispace Social Media for Employers Series:
Part One: What Are Your Risks?
Part Two: Managing Your Social Media Risks
Part Three: Drafting A Social Media Policy
Part Four: Things Staff Should Do
Part Five: Things Staff Shouldn’t Do
Please check out this very useful guide by Complispace – and implement!