It is safe to say that social media has transformed the way modern business is conducted. It has been a catalyst for change in the language and landscape of commerce as the rapid growth of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a myriad of other platforms has turned traditional methods of business communication upside down. Such a drastic digital revolution has brought just as many challenges as opportunities for organisations aware of the risks posed by being too close to the cutting edge, but equally as anxious not to be left behind.

Characterized by an immediacy and informality, the straight to the point, succinct style of most social media sites can sometimes seem to set a pace which organisations and their employees struggle to sustain. But the potential such platforms offer in terms of promoting a positive public image of a business or brand and for sharing information in an incisive and innovative manner, means that a patience and persistence in understanding the nuances of their use can bring tangible rewards.

Different businesses will have differing views on the strategic importance of social media in the context of their culture and creative output, but all (but the most prehistoric) are surely now recognising that it should feature somewhere within their communications framework. For organisations keen to embrace the opportunities offered by these alternative communication channels, there are certain key considerations in ensuring effective administration of a social media strategy.

  • From the outset it is crucial to ensure you have clear, formal privacy policies and terms of use for any social media platforms or services the business offers or allows access to. Provided these do not impose unnecessary or impractical restrictions on employees they should be effective starting points for your overall framework.
  • Thereafter you should provide comprehensive guidance and training to all employees on business-related use of social media. People are often overlooked as the most vulnerable link in the technological chain – education, awareness and open discussion are the foundations of a productive and positive social media strategy.
  • Providing parameters for personal use of is trickier, but making employees aware of acceptable use of social media inside and outside the workplace is similarly important so that an organisation or employee doesn't do unintentional damage to one another.
  • Where the platform in question allows, features, or is built upon, user generated content, a suitable understanding of the risks involved, your responsibilities relating to content accuracy and appropriateness, and the necessary safeguards you must have in place in place are all key elements in establishing an effective forum. Read more in one of our recent e-updates.
  • Disclosure of material connections with third-party vloggers or bloggers who may be involved in promoting products or services is now a requirement, providing transparency to prospective customers.
  • Maintaining an awareness of cyber-security vulnerabilities and threats is critical, especially where identifiable personal data is a part of any service used or provided by an organisation.  Ensuring security structures are set up to withstand.
  • Making sure the personal data of third parties or employees is not used for promotional or commercial use without consent is a major part of overall data protection responsibilities. Implementing a 'privacy by design' approach as part of any social media activity will ensure social media slip ups are minimised.
  • Being very cautious in conducting any due diligence on prospective employees via social media services or relying upon unverified information uncovered on the internet is essential.

Adhering to these simple rules for social media in a business setting will help protect and promote this fundamental resource as an appreciable asset rather than a lingering liability.