How to Protect your Company against Social Media Reputation Risk and Avoid Sparrow like Incidents

There are lots of good articles and guidelines on the Web so this article wish to just add and not reinvent the wheel, but the Penny Sparrow, Chris Hart and Justin van Vuuren social media incidents showcased the need for better formulated Social Media Policies, communication of those policies AND better training on how to use social media for all employees.

This type of risk is sometimes classified as part of cyber risk and the velocity with which messages can go viral catch many organizations with surprise.

The problem is that often the boundaries of control gets distorted. This is not just an IT, HR or Reputation Risk issue but it goes further to training in organizational and interpersonal communication. Staff do not always understand that words are loaded, and that the meaning to words do not lie in the words you use , but in people’s heads.

In order to protect your company’s reputation against this type of risk, why not:

  1. Include Social Media Policies and training as part of your onboarding processes and stakeholder engagement initiatives;
  2. Explain and communicate and raise awareness of the need to protect the company’s good name. Your policy formulation should be backed up by appropriate training and ongoing communication and reinforcement;
  3. Benchmark your policies against best practice;
  4. Embrace it as a Stakeholder Engagement tool (Study the IBM way – “Social network interactions on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter implicitly define a personal brand.” – IBM). Trying to control the message will not work. Instead you need to understand that social media usage can also be advantageous for the organization and that it is a stakeholder outreach and engagement tool.

By carefully influencing Social Media use you can greatly enrich your stakeholder reputation management efforts.

Read these articles for more information:

Hootsuite’s  Managing Social Media Risk, Part 1: Defining Governance Structure

Extinguishing a social media fire: what you need to know