Ten ways to manage the risks of using social media for your business

Connected. That seems to be the magic word these days. Social media has come crashing into society, and its effects have been far-reaching. Businesses feel the pressure to go digital and create social media accounts. And social networks can be very beneficial for small businesses – it allows you to connect with others who are involved in your industry, reach out to clients, and even stumble into potential job candidates. But along with all of the benefits of social media, there are risks. Knew there had to be a catch somewhere! The risks, though, are manageable, and we’ve got a few tips to help your business stay savvy with its social media.

1. Project a positive company image.

You don’t want people to be talking trash about your business, right? It’s important to make sure that your business has a good reputation online, so you need to do some identity management. That means keeping tabs on how your business’s name is being used by heading to Google or your favorite search engine. Your company’s official website should be the first hit on the list. If you scroll through the results and notice negative comments about your business, you might have some work to do to improve your company’s online image.

2. Know what your employees are saying.

If the negative comments or views you’re noticing are coming from your employees, or if your business’s name is being associated with things that you’d rather it not be, you might need to create a social media policy that gives some guidelines for social media use. Of course, you need to be sure that you’re within the bounds of the law when you make your policies.

3. Check out third-party sites.

If the negative comments are coming from third-party sites that are outside the control of you or your employees, you might need to reach out to them to get them to take down comments that are false or defamatory. Or you can try to bolster your company’s positive comments so that the negative ones aren’t quite so prominent – but make sure you do this in an authentic way.

Your company's online presence doesn't stop at your social media accounts.

4. Bring in the professionals if need be.

You might need to think about hiring an identity management or public relations firm to help pick up your company’s reputation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Don’t underestimate the power of your company’s online reputation.

5. Use social media in recruiting wisely.

If you’re using social media to screen or research potential job candidates, do so at your own peril. There are many risks to this sort of research. You run into issues of legality because social media might reveal personal differences or information that’s better left outside the recruiting process. You could end up facing potential employment practices issues when you’re hiring.

Plus, it can be tricky to figure out what’s appropriate or inappropriate when it comes to social media accounts. Who gets to define what’s “inappropriate”? Are the contents of someone’s personal social media account a legitimate reason not to hire someone?

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You open yourself up to lawsuits if you use social media to screen applicants because people post personal information, such as their age and religion. You may have a completely legitimate (and legal) reason for not selecting a candidate, but they could accuse you of using their personal information against them. If you’re using social media to research your job candidates, make sure to consider all possible risks and scenarios.

6. Monitor your social media accounts.

When it comes to the social media accounts you might have for your business, are you considering how you manage the accounts? It’s important to think about who has access to your accounts and who can post on your company’s behalf. It’s generally advisable to only give one person or a small team of people administrative access to these accounts so that you have more control over what gets posted. Make sure that you’ve trained these people so that they know what their role is and how to act online.

Make sure to keep tabs on your social media accounts.


7. Have a plan to tackle negative content on your account or site.

You need to be prepared for the inevitable – the online world can be brutal. Customers and people who come into contact with your business will undoubtedly express their opinions online. You need to know how you’re going to tackle the negative things that are going to be out there.

8. Consider security risks.

Social media sites, like any other sites, can fall prey to cyber attacks and viruses.  At any rate, it’s important to keep tabs on your social media sites to see what’s going on.

Some basic security measures you can follow for your social media accounts are…

  • Report spam as soon as you notice it.
  • Definitely do not click on links that seem sketchy. Seriously. When in doubt don’t click. Learn how to detect phishing scams.
  • Make sure that your accounts are protected with strong passwords. We hate to break it to you, but 123abc does not count as a strong password.
  • Monitor your content regularly to make sure that everything’s as it should be.

9. Be careful with how you advertise.

Social media marketing is a big deal nowadays, but keep in mind that the Fair Trade Commission has come up with some guidelines for businesses that use social media to advertise. These guidelines are there to make sure that these businesses are complying with applicable laws. Some of these guidelines are…

  • No false advertising. Your ads can’t be deceptive in any way. People don’t like being tricked or lied to.
  • No sneakiness as far as endorsees go. If you have people endorsing your company, they have to disclose their relationship if they’re connected to your company.
  • No trademark infringement.
  • Mind your copyrights.

Advertising on social media can get tricky.

10. Know how to handle a social media nightmare.

You need to have a plan for dealing with negativity online. It’s important that you have a team that knows how to handle a social media catastrophe, and that they can put that plan in place quickly.

Yes, social media can be a great boon, but it also opens up a can of worms. Make sure that you know how to manage the worms that come along with social media before you delve into the world of online connectivity.

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