June: The perils of social media

Social media is a bit like fire: a useful servant but a dreadful master… Used carefully, it is an amazingly flexible and impactful way of reaching thousands, maybe millions of people with your message, and who wouldn’t welcome that kind of publicity?

Everyone can have a voice on social media and I for one welcome that empowerment, and the kind of positive difference it can make to people’s lives.

But what happens when inappropriate use of social media shines a spotlight on your firm? This was the situation facing a Yorkshire firm last week when an employee tweeted what appeared to be a marketing message in the aftermath of the Alton Towers accident. The post was quickly taken down and a statement made by the firm.

Would your firm’s Social Media Policy have covered (or prevented) such a scenario or would you have been floundering to produce a response?

How would you deal with both the Press and with the person initiating the tweet? Do your staff know where the boundaries are and indeed that there are boundaries? Do you have a crisis management plan for high visibility for the ‘wrong’ reason.

Given the potential for getting it badly wrong, I think there is every reason to get out your Social Media Policy and review it right now.

Fiona Gillam

10th June 2105