How Safe is Your Business On Social Media?
Dan Levenson October 29, 2015
It’s no secret that social media has become completely ubiquitous, even in the business world. Because of the blurred lines between professional and personal social media, what’s posted by you and your staff—whether it’s in the context of your business or not—can easily conflict with the public company message you want to convey. Likewise, posting overly personal business information can result in surprisingly negative consequences on your insurance policies.
In the latter case, this can relate to data mining from insurance companies. It’s a situation where your premiums could be affected if you get too specific about things happening to your business.
Most of all, though, any type of private information can end up being a legal problem if you aren’t careful. This goes for you, the business owner, and it especially goes for employees you don’t monitor every day.
So how do you manage your business on social media so you know everything said there won’t hurt your company legally or financially? By taking some smart management steps, you can get everyone on the same page.
A General Social Media Policy
Simply calling a meeting to discuss a general social media policy can get all of your employees aware of your concerns. If necessary, create a rule book and make copies for every employee on how they should conduct themselves when on social media. This can apply to both your company’s accounts, as well as their personal accounts should they choose to share the fact that they work for the company.
Signing disclosure agreements are sometimes frowned upon by employees, yet they are sometimes necessary if you have trade secrets you don’t want blabbed online. This still may not prevent an unscrupulous employee from posting something you’ll regret, so choose who has posting access carefully to avoid PR disasters.
Dividing Employer Disclosure on Personal Accounts
Part of your social media management should involve policies on employees avoiding employer disclosures on their personal accounts. Integrating your company message with someone’s personal account could easily backfire legally, especially if one of your employees posts controversial posts.
While legal entanglements are bad enough, just having bad publicity from the above scenario could hurt your business reputation for months or years. Make sure your employees keep their personal accounts separate from the accounts representing your company.
Avoiding Data Mining from Insurance Companies
You probably didn’t know insurance companies now scour social media to see if their clients are coverage risks. It sounds invasive, yet it’s perfectly legal based on social media’s public nature.
What insurance companies look out for is your business’s condition and whether you post about accidents or other mishaps. You’re better off avoiding posting about anything bad that happens to your business on social media, particularly when you have an open insurance claim.
Training Your IT Staff to Address Privacy Concerns
General privacy problems like hacking could also occur on social media if you post valuable business information there. It’s here where your IT staff needs to get involved and help fortify security measures through your computer systems. Otherwise, hacks could occur under your nose without you even knowing it.
Down the road, you may discover that personal info became compromised, hence leading to major regulation fines and lawsuits from customers who trusted you.
Social media can serve as a wonderful marketing tool, but its wide-open nature means that it can be a liability. With a bit of smart planning and mindful employee management, however, you needn’t avoid it altogether, and you can continue to enjoy the benefits without worrying about putting your business at risk.