Risk Magazine recently reported that some organisations have unknowingly exposed themselves to significant risks because they have struggled to adjust to the rapid development and increased use of social media. Organisations, including those in the sports, events and venues industries, will continue to see an increase in the number of “Generation Y” employees - those born in the 1980s and 1990s, who tend to be heavy users of social media.

Implement Guidelines

The article quotes James Griffin, head of digital strategy for SR7, as saying “A staggering amount of organisations do not have guidelines in place, making it difficult for both staff and the employer to understand what acceptable use is.” This is surprising, given that social media can be an important tool for many organisations to engage with their customers.

With no guidelines in place, social media may be used by employees who inadvertently cause problems for the organisation. Disgruntled employees may refer to their organisation in social media, and this can have a devastating impact on the brand. It is important that clear guidelines are put in place and that the rules are strictly enforced. “An ad hoc approach to engaging in social media and not involving all relevant stakeholders is a common risk [for many businesses],” Griffin said.

Managing Reputation

Another reputational risk is the impact of having negative customer feedback about an event or venue posted onto social media websites. Traditional media may then pick up on the issues resulting in significant reputational damage.

This is particularly prominent in local Government and some sections of the retail industry.

Protecting Yourself

If you consider that social media represents a significant risk to your business (but that it also offers an important opportunity), undertake a risk assessment addressing its impact on the business, and establish clear guidelines for its use by your workforce.

The Risk Magazine article can be found here.

There is also some great additional information on Online Reputation Management at Sydney consultancy firm Websalad