While social media can bring significant benefits to your firm, there are also huge risks which can damage your reputation in an instant.
A few examples of the negative impact of social media
- When two employees of Domino's Pizza posted a spoof video on YouTube showing them making 'unsanitory' pizzas, it was viewed over 1 million times before the firm reacted, causing substantial reputational damage
- In September 2015, Charlotte Proudman tweeted an exchange with solicitor Alexander Carter-Silk after he commented on the photo in her LinkedIn profile. Both were publicly criticised and the solicitor's firm made a public apology
- A Lacoste employee was fired for posting a photo of his pay cheque on Instagram, claiming he had breached confidentiality rules
- When O2 experienced major network problems, negative tweets reached an estimated 1.7 million people
- When 60 employees were fired at HMV, the firm forgot to remove their social media access first and they 'live-tweeted' as events unfolded
Incidents like these have a measurable impact on your firm
- Dell estimated that the average online promotor earns them $32 while the average online detractor costs them $57
- A 2% drop in negative publicity can boost sales by 1%
Top tips to protect your reputation on social media
- Be clear about company rules - read your company's IT and social media policies, the company handbook, and disciplinary procedures to find out what is and isn't allowed.
- Take responsibility - if you see anything posted online (by colleagues, clients, competitors or others) which may be detrimental to your firm or your reputation, be sure to report it promptly.
- Don't post, retweet, forward or share anything which may compromise your firm's reputation - including anything which is offensive, discriminatory, sexist or defamatory.
- Don't claim to represent or speak on behalf of your company online - unless it's part of your job. Refer any direct questions about your company or products to the right people.
- Take care when sharing photos - always get permission first, respect others' privacy, and take extra care to ensure that commercially-sensitive information is not compromised. Check what's in the background first.
- Think before you send/post - once it's shared, information cannot be easily retrieved.
- Steer clear of social media if you've had a bad day - avoid venting about colleagues, customers or your boss online; if you have a grievance, raise it through the proper channels.
- Avoid the 'herd mentality' - never engage in online bullying, harassment, or trolling online or use company systems for this.
- Remember social media is a public place - you can't hide behind your anonymity; at work, all activity is likely to be tracked against your login; you'll face disciplinary action, including dismissal, and be prosecuted if you break the rules.
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