How to Manage Social Media Risks

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Social media has permeated the business world, creating opportunities for organizations to expand, engage, and interact with customers more than ever. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are now integral pieces to a successful business. Whether you use these platforms to actively reach existing and potential customers, simply maintain some semblance of a social media presence or not at all, it is important to understand the variety of risks that accompany the opportunities and how you can avoid potential disaster.   

Recognize the Risk

“Going viral” and “trending” can be great exposure for your business, especially when the content is something you’ve carefully crafted and casts you in favorable light. It’s a powerful phenomenon, but it’s essential to keep in mind that power works in both directions. The term “viral,” after all, relates to infectious diseases. It could be an accidental post or a poor review from a customer. Regardless, what once took weeks to reach a limited number of readers now reaches hundreds, thousands, or millions in a matter of minutes. The wrong message can create an astonishing level of attention just as easily as the right one.  

Protect Your Reputation

It’s worth the risk, though. And, in all honesty, you don’t really have a choice in the current landscape. Even if you don’t plan to use any particular social platform, you’re going to have to think about and monitor them. It’s incredibly easy for anyone to create and use social media sites using your brand’s trademarks if you haven’t already registered them on those sites. At a minimum, someone on your team should be monitoring popular sites for potentially fraudulent content.

Additionally, a savvy employee should be designated as a social media manager—someone who understands what should and should not be posted to your company’s sites. It’s still only inevitable that something goes wrong. Formulate a plan to respond to various scenarios. Identify potential risks to your brand, and have guidelines for appropriate responses on the ready. As mentioned earlier, the internet moves at instantaneous speed. Assuming the worst occurs, you’re not going to have much time to formulate a respond on the fly.  

More Followers, More Problems

Everyone, including your employees, is using some combination of social media platforms. This is good, but don’t forget that just as in print advertisements, social media ads must be truthful. Companies are responsible for false or misleading ads originating from an employee’s post, even if the post was not authorized by the company. Unfortunately, as VGM Forbin’s manager of Marketing Strategy, Cassi Price points out, you cannot regulate your employees’ personal social media usage as it pertains to your brand unless you have a social media policy in place.  Once you have your social media policy in place and call out employees who list their place of employment, you can enforce policies that protect trade secrets, private information, copyright laws, usage during business hours and posting about controversial issues. Resources created by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provide more information to businesses, helping them develop online ads which comply with the applicable laws.

Assuming everything is going well—you’ve avoided disaster thus far, and the only negative impact from your viral content has been so much internet traffic to your sites that they’ve almost crashed—you still have another threat looming: cyberattacks. As your social media presence grows, you become a much larger target for cybercrime, including theft, hijacking of sites, or denial of services. Follow your IT security department’s recommendations. Create strong passwords, enable two-step verification when available, and always avoid installing or clicking on suspicious material.

Additional Ways to Mitigate Risk from our Partner and Social Media Expert - VGM Forbin

Good governance is key:

  •  Recognize who “owns” your company’s social media.
  • Create, implement, and enforce social media policies which set rules for how to use social media on the company’s behalf. Remember to train employees on your policy.
  • Embed correct behaviors from the start.
  • Create a post-approval process.
  • Have a library of “pre-approved” content.
  • Create a crisis response plan in the event an emergency occurs. 

As social media continue their evolution within the business world, laws inevitably evolve with them. To stay on top of the risks, contact VGM Insurance Services today to learn more about risk management resources and insurance solutions.

For help with social media marketing, managing your online reputation and achieving your online goals, click here to check out our partner, VGM Forbin!



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