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Social Media as a Business Tool: Know Your Risks

Social Media as a Business Tool: Know Your Risks

Implementing guidelines can help keep your company, employees and reputation safe.

Social networking is part of our everyday life, including our business life. While it can be useful for marketing and sales for your business or product, there is real-life risk and potential danger associated with the use of social networks. It is very important to understand these risks, to know what and what not to post on these sites, and how to properly utilize these social networks to avoid unexpected and real dangers from their use. Every day we hear about another company that has been hacked or information leaked. And, how many times have employees been fired for posting slanderous or incorrect information about their employer online?

Social Media Background Checks

If you utilize social networking sites to help find potential employees, or to help conduct a background check on a potential employee, be sure to include a clause allowing you to do so in your employment form. While there is no legal precedent regarding the use of social networks for background checks, you always want to protect your business by having a signed release.

Also, be careful of the reliability of information about an individual found on any social network sites. Depending on the site, the information on these sites may actually be posted by the potential employee or anyone else, so it is probably not reliable. A thorough background check should always be conducted by a professional or verifiable source. It is time and money well spent to protect your safety and the safety of your employees, as well as protection for your business.

Social Media as a Business Tool

With the trend towards social networking utilized as a business tool, you may be promoting social networking as part of your company philosophy, company marketing initiatives, or even using them to connect with employees at different offices and plants. If you do, as part of your company policy there needs to be technology controls and regulations, usage policies, possible employee training, etc. before allowing employees to undertake any use of social technology in the workplace. Strict guidelines are important.

Learn how to write a social media policy for your business. Download your free Social Media Policy Cheat Sheet.

Employers need to be aware that hackers are now directing their attacks toward sites that are frequented by employees on a daily basis, including social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. If you allow this at work, make sure your IT department institutes proper security controls.

And one more security issue to be aware of is that social networking can open up a physical danger issue for both you and your employees. Be sure to have on-site security controls and plans in place for your protection.

Social Media and Safety

Include your rules and regulations for social networking on company time and for using company information on social websites in your employee manual.

Here are some general guidelines to prevent your company and your employees from being victimized:

  • Always think safety and security FIRST!
  • The use of social networks is like letting someone into your personal and professional "house". It needs vigilant safeguarding and protection.
  • Always utilize the security and privacy tools available on each social network site.
  • Anything you post on a social network is public information and it’s there forever! If you wouldn’t put it on national TV news, don’t post it on a social website.
  • Caution your employees to never provide details or personal information such as their home address, full date of birth, social security number, banking information etc.
  • Limit the information posted regarding details of any daily/weekly schedules.
  • Report suspicious behavior to the security division of the social network sites, and to other authorities such as local police departments, the federal trade commission, and the FBI.

Be sure to include your rules and regulations for social networking on company time and for using company information on social websites in your employee manual and make sure your employees are aware of these rules. Your company, your reputation and/or your employees’ lives may depend on these guidelines.