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Keeping employees off the social media black list

For businesses, social media is a useful tool for communicating and collaborating with customers, colleagues and new prospects. But it also brings a level of risk to a business – so how are you meant to balance the good and the bad? Here are some tips.

According to Clearswift regional director Phil Vasic, social media brings risk and reward to business in equal measure.

Information security is a key concern. Many organisations view social media channels as another way for sensitive data to escape from the business, whether accidentally or maliciously. On top of this, senior management may be concerned about the amount of time employees spend on social networks.

Organisations using content and web security technology can manage the way their staff use email and the internet without having to resort to a default position of mistrust. With a whopping third of ANZ employers completely blocking social media access at work, there’s a real danger of throwing the benefits of collaboration out with the risks.

Here are Vasic’s tips for ensuring communication flows freely in your business, without losing sight of acceptable use policies:

  • Trust breeds responsibility: People underestimate the amount of company time they spend on personal browsing. Allow staff to view their own web usage and foster more responsible behaviour without undermining trust.
  • Know limits: Set clear limits on personal surfing and communicate them to users. Alert them when they are approaching their limit. Help your people to play by the rules.
  • Share the load: Spread responsibility for usage reporting among managers and department heads so everyone gets to see how their usage impacts on the rest of the organisation. This also gives managers greater control and visibility into usage.
  • Need to know: Yes, you need reports and visibility. What you don’t need is employee data becoming common knowledge. Access control means reporting can be adjusted on a need-to-know basis.
  • Keep it simple: Use reporting software that allows you to customise and automate your guidelines and policies.
  • Don’t break, bend: All acceptable usage policies need the flexibility to adapt to different job functions and departments. Policy should reflect the way you do business.
  • Prevent data spill: Don’t be the next news headline. Communicate data security strategy clearly to all employees. And reinforce this with regular education and updates. You can’t expect people to adhere to policies they don’t know exist.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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