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Top 10 Tips for De-risking Social Media Content


Helen Rideout, author of new book Employee Risk Management, shows you how to manage social media content in your organisation.

Social media can be a double-edged sword for organisations. On the plus side, you can reach a global audience far more quickly and cheaply than conventional marketing techniques would allow. Yet, if not managed properly, it comes with a unique ability to land you in legal hot water. The main threats are:1) libel; 2) breaches of confidentiality; 3) harassment; and 4) reputation damage from the material created. So it follows that the more people uploading user generated content (UGC) on your behalf; the more likely it is that you will encounter a problem.

With this in mind, my top 10 tips on how to stay safe are as follows:

1. Identify those uploading UGC. Find out exactly who is posting content in your organisation’s name. When doing this, include any freelancers that you may use, as well as other third parties, such as interns and volunteers. If you operate 24/7, include anyone who works anti-social hours. Note down name, department and employment status on a list.

2. Limit numbers authorised. Review these names and ask yourself who should be uploading UGC to your social media feeds. If the list is too long for comfort, restrict those who have permission to do so. Make sure everyone knows the new position and update job descriptions accordingly.

3. Clarify ownership of UGC. Make it clear that your organisation owns any content posted on your social media feeds. Reinforce this message by adding a sentence to your social media policy explaining why this is (eg to prevent theft of content).

4. Understanding libel. Brief those with permission to upload content on the type of material that is potentially libellous. Also outline the harm it could do to your organisation’s reputation.

5. Define confidential information. Clarify the type of material considered to be commercially confidential or sensitive in some way.

6. Ban trolling and harassment. This is a growing problem and at some point an employer could be held vicariously liable for comments/tweets sent by staff. So ban content threatening violence or inciting racial hatred.

7. Disciplinary sanctions. Link the more serious social media policy breaches to your disciplinary procedures. If certain activities on social media will be deemed gross misconduct, make this clear and inform your workforce what they are.

8. Appoint a social media manager. Whilst this does not have to be a dedicated post, there should be one point of contact to assume overall responsibility for the UGC posted. If necessary, this individual can vet content before it is uploaded.

9. Tighten up password access. When an employee authorised to post content leaves your organisation, change the password on accounts they had access to. If there is any bad feeling, it prevents them from posting damaging comments.

10. Review social media policy. Given how rapidly social media evolves; regularly review this policy to ensure that it continues to protect your organisation.

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