Social Media — What is it and is it Risky?
Social media has become a fixture on communication agendas across the country, fueled by the fact that Americans’ spent 73 percent more time on such networking sites in the past year alone. But according to a new survey, social media use is also generating its share of corporate heartburn.
Recent research conducted with Russell Herder confirms that confidence exists in social networking as viable communication outreach, but so do worries about the potential liabilities involved. Concerns regarding social media use were acknowledged by some eight in 10 businesses participating in the national study, which was conducted over the month of July. Fifty-one percent fear social media could be detrimental to employee productivity, while almost half (49%) assert that using social media could damage company reputation.
Despite these apprehensions, social networking is being viewed as a key strategy. According to survey results, eight in 10 senior management, human resource and marketing executives believe social media can enhance relationships with customers/clients and build brand reputation. Almost 70 percent feel such networking can be valuable in recruitment, as a customer service tool (64%) and used to enhance employee morale (46%). The most popular vehicles being used include:
Much of senior management’s direct experience with social media appears to be reactive versus proactive, an interesting fact given the confidence they express in these new mediums. The majority (74%) of executives surveyed said that they, personally, visit social media sites at least weekly to read what customers may be saying about their company, and routinely monitor competitors’ use of social networking. One in three search social media sites to see what their employees are sharing; or check the background of a prospective employee (25%).
Social media has delivered incredible potential to build relationships, increase organizational effectiveness and grow brands, but its use is clearly raising questions in the board room. Should employees be encouraged to use social networking to enhance marketing outreach? Or will such activity impede productivity in an already tight economy? And what about reputational risk?
Rather than bypass the social media opportunity, organizations should embrace it while taking steps to educate their team about internal guidelines and best practices.
Yet, remarkably few efforts are being made to mitigate the risks. Only one in three businesses surveyed by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law have a policy in place to govern social media use, and only 10 percent said they have conducted relevant employee training. Why? One of the main reasons, according to respondents, is uncertainty about what to include in such policies.
So what should be included in a good social media policy? Be sure to read about the key elements in our upcoming blog post.
How does your organization handle social media? What do you do to mitigate the risks? We’d love to hear about your experience, so be sure to leave your comments.