As if today’s executives don’t have enough to be concerned with, now we need to worry about our employees’ use of social media, too. It is true: What employees tweet, message, or post via social media can present risks to your business.

The use of social media by your employees presents potential legal liability as well as the potential to harm your company’s reputation in the marketplace. The risks fall into two main categories:

  1. Lack of control in public view.Employees have the ability to post information that could be damaging and/or inaccurate about your company via sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook, just to name a few. Employees could post pictures that reveal proprietary information, equipment, processes, or inventions, or inadvertently expose confidential client information. Employees also may misrepresent the company’s position with regard to public policy, political matters, or even disclose information about company products or employees.The list of examples could go on and on, but the bottom line is that social media can be both a blessing and a curse to businesses. Company-crafted messages issued through social media platforms can be a fantastic tool to build brand awareness. However, employees can inadvertently — or sometimes willfully — damage your company’s brand and image through their activities on social media, the prospect of which keeps many business owners and marketing executives awake at night.
  2. Loss of productivity. Employees engaged in social media activities outside of their job responsibilities while on the clock will be less productive and therefore your bottom line will be affected. Employees tweeting, posting “what’s on their mind” on Facebook, and connecting to people via LinkedIn are all activities that occur at the expense of the work that you pay them to perform.

These are just a few examples of the risks associated with employees using social media. So what can your organization do to mitigate these risks? A few things to consider:

  1. Craft a social media policy. It is essential that such a policy include specific and clear guidelines about what can and cannot be shared via social media. A policy should also clearly specify consequences for violations.
  2. Monitor and track employee use of company equipment to access social media. Establish procedures for regularly monitoring employees’ use of company equipment to access social media.
  3. Provide training for employees. Conduct awareness training for employees to educate them about appropriate use of company equipment as well as what information may be shared by employees via social media outlets.

Awareness, planning, and communication are the essential elements for managing the risks associated with employee use of social media. Business owners and IT, HR, and marketing professionals are the strategic team best equipped to address this business challenge. In the end, a well-conceived plan is your best defense.

Contact us at 215.441.4600 if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.