Risk Management Blog - ClearRisk

How to Reduce Social Media Risk in Your Company: A LinkedIn Discussion

Posted by Craig Rowe on Fri, Jun 17, 2011 @ 14:06 PM

The risk involved with social media is not a new topic. In fact, we talked about it last year in our blog post Social Media Policy: Avoiding a Death-Blow! This is still a relevant topic; with the popularity of social media ever increasing, businesses must prepare for the risks that come along with the opportunities that social media provides.

I asked the LinkedIn community “How do you handle the risk of social media in your company?” With such a great response, I had to share the discussion. Here’s what several LinkedIn professionals had to say.

Steven Clarke, a Senior HR Executive, believes that social media can be a blessing or a curse, all depending on how it is managed. The first step is to establish a current, strong and clear policy. Steven suggests that companies:

  1. Ensure that everyone knows the rules and what’s allowed and what’s not;
  2. Protect the trademark, allow for marketing and employee use; and
  3. Talk about consequences for violations.

I agree with Steven when he says the policy is the foundation. Having a clear policy is vital to reducing the likelihood of harm being caused by social media. Once this is in place, you must “decide the role you want social media to play. Many companies use Facebook and Twitter for marketing purposes, but the best ones are using them for employee communication, shared learning, transparent leadership, and are very open with their teams.” In Tony Hsieh’s book, “Delivering Happiness”, about his company Zappo’s, he talks about empowering and encouraging employees to use social media because they see it as a compliment to their marketing efforts.

Another respondent expanded on this idea as well: “I don’t think a company can implement enough checks and balances to guarantee that there will be no risks.” A policy is essential to let employees know the consequences beforehand.

This professional also raises a valid point: “Educate your employees on how to use the company’s social media. It sounds like a no-brainer, but many people need guidance in this area.” Many companies neglect to inform their employees of acceptable social media use, but even more neglect to educate their employees on how to use these networks.

As with all risk management policies, it is necessary to keep your social media policy current and enforce it. Social media is constantly evolving, and your policy should be as well. Delegate someone within the company as the go-to contact for social media. By doing so, employees will always have someone to approach with questions or concerns about social media. For a full social media sample policy, see our Company Guidelines on Online Public Discourse from the ClearRisk Manager Library.

Is there anything else your company can do to reduce the risks involved with social media use?

Do you have a social media policy at your company? We would love to hear your comments!

Topics: social media policy, reputation risk management, social media risk management, social media risk