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Social Media Risk Management: How to Evaluate your Liability before it's too Late

Harry Rollason
By Harry Rollason on Jun 21, 2016 10:36:00 AM

As we all know, we are living in a digital world. A defining characteristic of this digital transformation is the technology we are seeing everywhere, most obviously, in the social realm. Even if we are not immersed in the technology industry, we can’t ignore how social media has transformed our everyday social interactions, both between individuals as well as between consumers and brands.

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In terms of social media for business, the field started off focusing on marketing. However, after realizing the potential in other areas such as customer service, client relations, etc--smart business owners have adapted to make social a priority across multiple departments.

But there are two sides to every story. With every positive advancement comes certain negative side effects and while I would argue the benefits of using social media for business far outweigh the risks, it is important to explore the issues at hand in order to protect your brand from potential areas of conflict and get the most out of your social media customer service strategy.

Legal Implications

The first element that comes to mind when I hear social media risk management are legal liabilities. It’s important to note that although social media is widely used for businesses, there are often certain legal precautions one should evaluate when you open social accounts for your business. This is especially true if you are in a highly regulated industry such as banking.

First of all, make sure your brand is trademarked and you own the rights to your name and social accounts. Otherwise, if someone else has the same name, copyright issues could be a problem. Not only that, but often times companies get burned when their employees or third party agency owns the rights to their social accounts. Avoid this predicament by keeping all rights in your name.

Next, make sure your employees are smart on social. If your employee bashes your company or writes something controversial, it could have ramifications for your organization. In addition, if they publish something that is viewed as overly promotional of your products or services without disclosing the fact that they are an employee, the FTC might want to investigate.

To protect yourself, outline your policies regarding social media and distribute it as a handbook for all employees. Unfortunately, 60% of companies fail to create such solutions and as a result, people are often unclear on what they can and cannot do online, making it more difficult to regulate.

Protecting your Brand’s Reputation with Social Media Risk Management

As we all know, by being in a public forum such as social media, there is always potential for dissatisfied customers or disgruntled ex-employees to rebuke your company openly in front of other customers. Not only is this embarrassing, but it also can make you lose credibility.

Unfortunately, we can’t control everything, especially on social media. Therefore the best way to combat this is by using your social accounts to establish credibility. This means, respond to all queries quickly and respectfully. Show your followers that you are actively looking for solutions to all problems, even if you have yet to find that solution. Be proactive with your customer service engagements and put your best foot forward, always showing positivity and sensitivity to your customer’s needs. These actions will speak louder than words.

Remember people are mostly logical. Therefore, if they see greater evidence of you being kind, genuine, and informative on social, they will be far more likely to dismiss unfavorable accusations.  

Securing Social Accounts

Another legitimate concern when dealing with social media is the potential to be hacked. When hackers get ahold of your social media accounts, they can access information about your company, your customers, your product and more. What they choose to do with such information is anyone’s guess, but usually it’s not a great scenario. In addition to a breach of information, they can potentially damage your reputation by posting offensive content on social accounts including viruses.

Most recently, Linkedin hackers are selling 117 million private passwords--and all of this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to breaches. Prevent these disasters from happening by having a secure password that uses a combination of capital letters, numbers, and symbols. In addition, using a social media management system can safeguard your social accounts so that even if employees are working on your company’s account, they do not have full access to all your data. In the case you do get hacked, you should also find a way to remove all private information from compromised accounts so the hackers have nothing to work with. Remember to notify the site itself so they can take the right measures to ensure your information is as safe as possible.

Keep your Releases Top Secret

When you have a new product launch or exciting features to be released, you only want the information to go public when you're ready. But there have been instances when information was released to the public at inopportune times due to the wrong people getting ahold of a company’s social media accounts. Again, if you make sure your accounts are extremely secure, you can avoid these types of occurrences--and have time to make your launch something truly spectacular.

Social customer service can open a world of opportunity for each and every brand. With it, you can better understand your customers, guide them, and develop more meaningful relationships with them. However, in order to attain the major benefits of social customer service, you have to first be aware of the drawbacks so you can protect your company from threats. This way, you will be equipped to handle anything that comes in your way, and enjoy the wide range of advantages that social media provides.

More than a liability, social customer service is a tremendous opportunity. When you take advantage of all it has to offer you can adapt yourself to offer various channel options to suit each customer’s specific preferences. As a result you increase engagement, ROI, and provide a positive customer experience.

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