Social Media Risks

Business Beware

Companies are using social media tools to promote products, communicate with customers, collaborate with business partners and provide leadership in various issues affecting their industries.

However, those same tools can make your business vulnerable to social media risks because everyone using social media platforms/tools today is a “publisher.” It opens up your business to traditional media exposures such as defamation, invasion of privacy, copyright infringement, trademark infringement, etc….

For example, you and your employees may think it’s harmless to informally “Tweet” the latest information about your company’s happenings or share content on YouTube or some other social media platform. However, casual commentary over electronic media can lead to formal trouble if the subject of the message considers it to be personally offensive.

Also, your business may be held liable for your communications, as well as the communications from your employees. Consider what could happen if one of your workers made disparaging comments about your company, your competitors or their products. The speed at which such comments can reach millions of people and gain credibility is unprecedented.

However, there are steps you can take when using new media to help diminish the risk to your company:

  • Develop a comprehensive new media policy and establish the ground rules with employees to avoid potential terminations.
  • Don’t relax your writing rules. Even though a tweet isn’t an official memo or email, your company can still get sued.
  • Update all contracts to allow posting of content from a speech, conference call, white paper, webinar in new media.
  • Think before you click. Ask yourself: Is this information relevant to the corporate message and business practice?
  • Discover the editing floor. Is the tweet or post insulting, offensive or defamatory? Err on the side of caution.
  • Designate a social media guru with appropriate experience and knowledge to pre-screen content.
  • Establish a gatekeeper to protect the corporate username and password. This will help ensure disgruntled employees cannot post on behalf of the company.
  • Act fast to take down infringing or offensive material.

Following these measures can help protect your company while it interacts online. Added to this is to follow strong legal counsel for defamation laws in your state and to use a solid insurance policy as a last line of defense.

Learn more about Internet liability.

Next: Evaluate your risk level by taking a brief risk assessment questionnaire.