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  • R. Scott Kimsey

Managing the Risks of Social Media

Social media is an important topic for businesses these days, as is any facet of a company's online presence, and its interactions online with not only customers but competitors and even the company's own staff. Many businesses block social media access in the workplace, but with the rise of mobile devices it is increasingly difficult to prevent employee access to social media during work hours, and depending on the business it may not be desirable to do so.

As with most such issues, a company's approach to social media doesn't have to be all or nothing. Rick Gilman has an interesting article at PropertyCasualty360 discussing this very point. The article is worth a read, and I'll summarize three of Gilman's recommendations here:

1. Policies and Procedures

Have a clear policy in place, and one that is readily available to any employee. Make sure all employees know exactly what is expected in the context of social media, so there are no mistakes later and you reduce the risk of an employee doing damage to the company by his or her social media interactions.

2. Invest in Your Employees

Gilman argues that while an initial social media investigation of an employee, before hiring, is advisable, it is counter-productive to continue to investigate employees once they're on board. The company is better served investing in the success of those employees, as well as in their education on social media, helping them to bring a positive face to the company's social media presence through their posts, interactions with customers, and other publicly-visible actions that may be associated with the company.

3. Recognize Where Things Are Heading

The importance of social media is likely to continue to grow, as is the difficulty of keeping employees off of social media during work hours. It may already be unrealistic to expect that employees will be disengaged while at work. Recognizing the realities of your employees' social media lives, and the growing interactions they will all have with potential customers, competitors, and so on, is important if a business is to adopt a sensible social media policy that maximizes the benefits offered by social media while keeping risks down as much as possible.

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