Social media and reputation management

The recent row over the short-lived appointment of Toby Young to the board of the Office for Students is yet a further reminder as to dangers of using social media to voice personal opinions. Following the media furore and unwanted attention, Mr Young is reported to have deleted some 40,000 historical tweets, highlighting the point that when you tweet you are publishing and that statement/opinion or comment is in the public domain often permanently.

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Tweet No Evil

The Toby Young situation brings in to focus the potential consequences for careless use of social media that can include lasting reputational damage not only for the individual but also for others including entities with whom they are connected – in Mr Young’s case, this includes the Government and the Officer for Students. Drawing a line from this, it is not difficult to imagine circumstances where the unintended actions of an individual may cause embarrassment for their employer, and may in extreme cases cause serious reputational damage.

This highlights the importance for companies to have a formal social media policy that stipulates acceptable use of company accounts and behaviour on-line that may impact upon a company.

Your social media policy should address two key areas:

  • Your company social media channels
  • Employee use of social media

The policy needs to reflect the vision and values of your organisation, and encourage employees to use social media responsibly and positively. The content will vary according to the nature of your organisation but you should make it clear how you expect employees to behave online.

Key areas to address include:

  • Brand guidelines and values – how to talk about your organisation and its products or services
  • Etiquette – how to respond to people talking about your organisation, including negative comments
  • Security – the importance of strong passwords and what to do if your account is comprised
  • Confidentiality – what information can be shared, and what is not appropriate
  • Accountability – employees should be aware they are responsible for the content they post
  • Legal – the need to credit sources, and laws regarding use of images (copyright)

Clear guidelines will help employees use social media as a positive tool in promoting your brand and encouraging consistent use across the organisation.

Your organisation also needs to consider how it would respond to a scenario where a controversial, and perhaps embarrassing comment, reflects badly on the business. Your social media policy can help mitigate the risk of reputational damage, but you may wish to ensure you have additional safeguards in place. Multimedia Liability is an inherent cover of Cyber Policies and can include costs and awards for any allegation of defamation or breach of IPR/Copyright/ Trademark.

More importantly a Cyber policy will equip the business with access to a suite of experts (paid for by the insurer) to help manage and mitigate reputational harm in the event of a breach or unintentional misstatement.

Talk to us

For more information about how to better manage the risk of trading on-line and how to access advice and transfer risks off your balance sheet, please speak with a member of the Stackhouse Poland team.