Are tweets and status updates harming your business?

CautionI am clearly not the only person who has noticed changes in our world. With the ever changing social networks like Facebook and now Google+ you sometimes forget the rules of use change along with it. You may already be aware of the topic on social media transparency which usually focuses on being forthright, authentic and honest when participating in social networking. However, what you may not realize, since the FTC issued its revised guidelines for online communicators, the issue of transparency is of even greater importance to businesses.  No longer is it simply unethical to withhold information about what product or company you represent, it may also be considered unlawful. It is important you identify yourself as a representative (employee, manager, or owner) when posting any content or comment in relation to your company or product. This transparency requirement is universally applicable, whether an employee posts content on his or her own personal social network channel or when he or she simply comments on others’ posts. Companies should require their employees issue a disclaimer that clearly states that personal views do not necessarily reflect those of the organization.

Now is definitely the time to re-evaluate how your business is handling its social media practices and consider implementing a social media policy.  Remember, there is no delete button for the Internet. Even if your company does not participate in social media, an innocent Tweet, Facebook post, or LinkedIn update by an employee on their personal accounts can have real economic and legal consequences for businesses.  The FTC guidelines state an employer should not be held liable in these circumstances if: (1) the employer had a social media policy pertaining to the “social media participation” of its employees; and (2) the policy adequately covered the employee’s conduct.  Unless you offer guidance for your employees you are putting your business and your reputation at risk.

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