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Staff social media activities threaten business brand

Employers must be mindful of the dangers social media present to their business brand over the Christmas period said law firm People and Culture Strategies (PCS).

PCS managing principal Joydep Hor says employees are often unaware of the extent to which they can damage a business’ brand through their interactions on social media, resulting in legal ramifications.

“Employers must realise that the biggest reputational risks social media presents their businesses are not associated with ‘where’ or ‘how’ employees interact. Rather, it is ‘who’ they’re sharing those interactions with,” said Hor.

Employees uploading photos of themselves and other staff to social applications such as Facebook and Twitter are being singled out.

“Twitter for example, offers significant reputational risk for employers as anything you post can be ‘retweeted’ by another user, allowing things to become widely known and to get out of hand very quickly,” said Hor.

Former Canberra Raiders NRL star Joel Monighan was recently asked to resign within 48 hours of pictures of him taken at a team end-of-year celebration were released on Twitter.

Hor said anything posted online, regardless of it being posted at work or even using work hardware, is accessible by anybody else on social media. “Essentially, the ramifications of what happens within the confines of staff events, such as Christmas parties, are not limited to who is attending.”

Corporate brand damage is most common arising from disparaging comments, photos, videos or blogs posted by employees, or otherwise with the disclosure of confidential information or trade secrets.

Photos posed via these sites may also become relevant information later in court cases that address events that may have occurred at these times.

Hor said employers should take a proactive approach to social media by implementing policies and training to ensure inappropriate use of these applications does not go unaddressed.

“A thorough social media policy is a ‘must-have’ for business owners and should be regularly updated so it remains relevant. Staff should also receive training about the policy, which is regularly updated to reflect the area, which is constantly evolving.”

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Maree Sorbello

Maree Sorbello

Maree is a first year student at Sydney's University of Technology, and is one of Dynamic Business' star interns.

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