Avoid social media mishaps

MAY 2010

A Brisbane marketer has called for businesses to avoid embarrassing Facebook mishaps by including social networking clauses in their HR policies.

ISP Media co-founder Lauren Neilson says large companies like Dell and Telstra are good examples of companies leading the charge, with policies requiring staff to lock down personal profiles.

“While there are many advantages for brands within social media, it is important to remember that this is a space where conversations are no longer controlled by the organisation,” she says.

“Social media is a many-to-many communication platform that allows everyone from your consumers to your staff to talk about your brand online and it is now critical for organisations to monitor and manage this representation.

“Defamation, anti-competitive behaviour, leaking of company secrets, corporate impersonation, inappropriate behaviour, misrepresentation and a decrease in productivity can all be consequences to social media usage in the workplace.”

Social networking sites are often used as a venting platform for disgruntled employees and can be used by past employees who know log-in details to misrepresent a company.

“While you may never be able to completely remove these threats, there are ways to monitor and manage social media misusage within your organisation,” says Neilson.

“Through staff education, collaboration and a well-developed company policy or guideline for the various platforms, outlining the dos and don’ts, you can use social media effectively and take advantage of the benefits it offers.”

Neilson affirms the importance of letting staff know they’re representing the company online whether they like it or not, but a staff media policy should be more positive than ‘laying down commandments’.

“During staff orientation, physically take them through the policy so you can be confident that they understand your needs and give them the opportunity to clarify or ask questions,” she says.

“Delegate one or several staff members to be your dedicated social media representatives – educate and collaborate with these staff members and then trust them to represent your organisation.

“Social media can be a very time consuming practice, it is important to ensure that your staff’s online activities do not interfere with their job or commitment to your clients.”

It is also important to emphasise to staff that they cannot post intellectual property online and that they must always give credit where it is due when sharing information, to avoid copyright infringement.

A company can also monitor comments relating to it online by using online marketing tool Dialogix, which uses advanced software to search through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to create a database of market sentiment information.

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