Protecting Your Brand in Social Networking

Does your strategy need a risk management component?

Turning a blind eye to the problem won’t make it go away, even during these early days of social networking. Consider Facebook, for example, which asks for a treasure trove of personal data from new users, including high school and college information, mother’s maiden name and “everything else that unlocks the keys to our lives,” says Schwartz. “It’s all out there, being shared with random people who really aren’t your ‘friends.’”

And while Schwartz doesn’t condone a big brother approach to social media risk management, he says companies simply must monitor what employees are doing online in forums like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. “Educate them on what could happen if they put ‘too much’ out there for everyone to see,” advises Schwartz. “Have a policy in place, stating that the Internet is for company use, and that social networking sites can be used only for the sharing of appropriate information.”

Finally, Schwartz says companies can turn to IT, managed services, and security providers that have developed Internet monitoring systems. “There are systems that will scour the Internet regularly for issues associated with your firm,” says Schwartz, “and that will reduce the liability associated with, say, drunken pool party photos that employees are posting on YouTube.”

Tips for Managing Social Media Risk:

–Assign an employee to constantly monitor the firm’s social networking activities.

–If the photo, video or comment could offend someone, don’t upload it.

–Come up with a plan for warding off the risks associated with social media…and stick with it.

Understand that once an employee posts on a social networking site – and a search engine like Google picks it up – you may never be able to “delete” it.

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