Social media is a major part of a business marketing plan. It allows businesses to interact with customers, target advertising efforts, and increase brand awareness. As social media continues to grow and evolve, 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, Instagram, 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 has an active 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 do not associate their personal views with the company on social networks. Finally, when 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 An account with stale or outdated information can look bad and potentially mislead customers.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.

There are many digital marketing companies that outsource social media services. It is important to set expectations up front with the marketing firm and be in continuous communication with them. While this may be a great option for businesses, it is important to keep in mind that hackers can still gain access to your social media accounts. Passwords should 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.

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