It’s easy to say something regrettable on Twitter, which can drag your professional brand through the mud. But there’s more to social media risk than a faux pas in 140 characters or less.
- Legal risk
Social media is a marketing tool, but businesses often fail to apply the same risk management approach to social networking as they do to other marketing activities. Many social media activities also sit in a legally grey area; for example, those who use random images found online may not consider copyright claims.
There are also legal issues pertaining to HR. For instance, what’s your legal recourse if one of your staff members harasses or defames someone using your business’s social media account?
What to do: Treat social media the same as your other marketing activities: have policies and follow them. One social media policy might be establishing who’s authorised to post content and whether it needs to be signed off. Consider training staff in IP, advertising standards and defamation. Remember, any time you’re in doubt, seek the assistance of a lawyer.
- Reputational risk
Social media can boost your brand or bring it down. The difficulty with reputational risk is that it can come from almost anywhere – from anonymous trolls and dissatisfied customers to industry competitors and rogue insiders. Even human error by you or your staff has the ability to damage your reputation on social media
What to do: Build a contingency plan into your social media marketing. Businesses tend to have a grace period where they can right the wrongs – perhaps by providing a dignified response to outsiders or taking action internally – but too many jump to a slapdash response which makes things worse.
Having trouble with your risk management plan? A public relations agency can help if you feel you’re in dire straits and are uncertain what to do.
- Social engineering
Malware, phishing and data loss are IT security issues, but social media often has a big role to play in whether these succeed. This is because hackers gather personal details from those platforms for social engineering. Essentially, hackers are able to get people to click on links they shouldn’t or to reveal confidential information, which could include passwords or sensitive business details.
What to do: An IT security policy is a great start but education is essential. Also consider running a ‘cyber drill’ to test whether the training has worked.
- Bad investment
Social media is often seen as a free or cheap way to increase exposure, but many businesses don’t consider the time and expertise it takes to do well, which can make it a bad investment. When not used effectively, social media can negatively impact both staff productivity and your bottom line.
What to do: As with any investment, social media needs to be monitored against outcomes to ensure it achieves the desired ROI. Make sure the time and money your business spends on social marketing results in clear benefits.
- Staff mental health
The limitless exposure social media offers may be a dream for your business but it can take a toll on your staff, especially if they’re on the receiving end of online harassment or negativity.
What to do: If possible, spread the social media responsibilities across a team, or at least ensure staff have access to a variety of tasks; for example, a community manager dealing with trolls should also have a chance to take happy snaps when your business wins an award. Coaching in resilience may also help.
Social media has accelerated marketing in such a short period that businesses could be forgiven for overlooking many of its risks. By proactively addressing these potential issues, however, you can reduce the likelihood and impact of negative social media incidents.
Contact PLAN Australia for more information on how we can help you market your business the right way.