written by Josh Beaird

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Social media has become a part of our daily lives and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. As businesses look to harness the benefits of social media, such as targeted advertising and increased customer interaction. It is important to be aware of the associated risks and take steps to mitigate them.

Company Policy
The first step in managing social media risk is developing a company policy. This policy should basically address the who, what, when, where, and how of social media interaction.

Who – Who will have access to accounts and ultimate responsibility for social media content?
What – What type of content will be posted?
When – How often will accounts be updated and reviewed?
Where – Which social media sites will we use (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
How – What is the purpose of engaging in social media and how will it benefit our company?

Open Platform
The second consideration in managing social media risk is having an awareness of the reputational threat that can emerge from having direct customer contact on an open platform. If your business chooses to have a social media presence, it is likely that customers will post questions, concerns and complaints. It is important to address these comments quickly and appropriately to avoid negative perceptions of your company’s reputation.

Additionally, customer privacy must always be maintained when interacting online. Businesses should also have an employee policy for social media interaction. This policy should most importantly address that employees not associate their personal views with the company on social networks. Finally, if social media accounts are opened, they need to be updated. An account with stale or outdated information can look bad and potentially mislead customers.

Account Security
The final consideration in managing social media risk is account security. As with any online account, social media accounts can be taken over by malicious hackers. If this situation occurs, your account can quickly be used to compromise other accounts and potentially spread a virus, or at best irritate connections with spam. To protect accounts, it is important to have strong passwords that are only known by authorized employees. Passwords should also be changed periodically and accounts should be monitored for any unusual activity.

Social media has many benefits and can lead to new business opportunities. The risks discussed in this article do not mean that your business should completely avoid social media. However, it is important to be aware of the risks and take steps to mitigate them so your business can fully grasp the potential that social media offers. Contact us if you have any questions 417-881-0145.