The potential fall-out of social media risks is much higher in regulated industries, but in an increasingly disruptive marketplace a completely cautious approach is not the answer.
We’re all becoming digitally and socially savvy and can see through carefully crafted posts by marketing. Scaring already cautious professionals into silence on social media is therefore not the answer - increasing awareness of social media risks and enabling them is.
Professionals Aren’t Immune From Social Media Risks
Regulated professions are prided on their ability to make sound judgments and certain professions such as lawyers are renowned for being masters of word nuances.
That doesn’t mean that they’re immune from momentary lapses of judgement – or that the public will interpret their social media posts in the way they were intended.
Take barrister Jon Holbrook, who was “cancelled” by his chambers for a tweet deemed by many to be racist:
“The Equality Act undermines school discipline by empowering the stroppy teenager of colour.”
He defends his actions in The Critic, saying that he was not using “of colour” in a racist way, but instead to give context to a case that concerned a protected characteristic under equality law. And that he was not by any stretch attacking a “vulnerable” girl.
Regardless of the arguments on either side, it’s something many organisations wouldn’t feel comfortable with. His defence is certainly not a quick and understandable read for Joe Public.
How To Protect Your Brand From Social Media Risks
Reduce The Human Risk Factor With Social Tools
Instead of limiting what your employees feel they can share, some social media tools remove the employee ‘fear factor’ whilst improving compliance at the same time.
For example, we’re working with many law firms and financial services organisations that are turning to tools such as Smarp , Sociabble or Elevate. These enable you to set up ‘post approval’ rules and pre-populated messages so that your employees can repost them, as well as enabling them to submit posts for approval.
Your employees feel safe in the knowledge that what they’re posting is on-brand and compliant, whilst lessening the fear of a PR scandal waiting in your inbox.
Beware Of The Robots!
The success of employee advocacy programmes rely on employee authenticity and pre-populating every single message reduces this. Try to limit approval or automated options to areas that lend themselves to being potentially offensive or pose a real threat to client confidentiality, such as:
- Winning a new client
- New deals
- Celebrating court wins
Keep On Top Of Social Media Risks
Fraudsters are always evolving how to carry out their attacks. (After all, how many of us now respond to emails littered with spelling mistakes telling us we’re due a windfall?) However, social media is the newest arsenal at their disposal, which enables them to make phishing attacks very convincing.
The IT and legal teams often hold overall responsibility for regulatory and legal risks for online activity. However, your social media policy should specifically identify all social media risks - whether that be reputational, security or confidentiality issues - and balance with that empowering employees to help build their professional brand.
- Regularly review your social media policy.
- Keep on top of feature updates and new social tools
- Look for common mistakes.
For example, simple oversights like accepting a connection request from a stranger or geo-tagging your location when you’re meeting a new client have the potential to cause serious security breaches and confidentiality issues.
- Highlight best practices in your employee advocacy programme.
Maybe someone has become an expert at creating viral posts. Pass on the good news too!
Address The Biggest Risk With Effective Social Media Training
"We're battling thousands of years of evolution. It's natural to be curious about things.”
Kevin Epstein, vice president of the Threat Operations Center at Proofpoint, via CIO.com
You can implement the latest malware, install remote wiping on mobile devices and use employee advocacy tools that enable you to screen comments before use. But that doesn’t remove the biggest risk factor: your people.
It doesn’t matter how comprehensive your training on how to conduct yourself on social media is. If your employees don’t understand it, it’s not effective.
If your regulator selected you for an audit, are you confident that your systems and controls in place stand up to scrutiny?
- Do you have evidence that employees understand the risks?
- Consider using practical examples of when potential risks can arise and test their understanding.
- And make sure you update your training regularly.
Lastly, don’t leave employees scared to share! Any social media compliance training should highlight the positives of why employee advocacy is so important and leave employees feeling empowered to know what to do online.
Our Social Practitioner Course is an interactive eLearning social media policy course that covers everything needed to help your employees – or workers - understand the potential consequences and risks on social media and protect their professional and employer brands. It uses scenario-based examples and bite-sized modules to aid retention and ensure they know how to apply theory in practice – as well as access that information in their time of need.
Find out more about how you can help empower your employees to use social media safely - check out our Social Practitioner Course.