Business Strategy

Is Your Media Socially Acceptable?

social media disaster

There are an alarming amount of Social Media internships out there.

Most of these internships detail an opening for a student or recent grad to run the company’s social media campaigns.  And why not?  Millenials have grown up with social media, they understand it better than anyone.

Not so fast.

That mindset that has left senior executives with quite a bit of egg on their face, or perhaps an entire omelette. Hardly a week goes by without news of a rogue tweet, embarrassing Facebook post, or offensive Instagram picture coming from a corporate account.

So who is responsible for these gaffes?

The entire organization, says Steve Miranda, Managing Director for Cornell University’s Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies. In a recent webinar, Miranda noted that many companies have two big problems with their social media efforts: lack of diverse viewpoints, and lack of protocol and policies.

You Need Diverse Viewpoints

To rewind: involving summer interns in social media is a great idea.  Handing over the keys to the car is not.  Your garden-variety millenial is very likely to have a bit more know-how when it comes to social media.  They’ll be up-to-date on the various social platforms, and probably have great ideas about  building a social presence.  What they may lack, however, is an understanding of your organization’s protocols, social voice, and, a mature viewpoint on what is appropriate.

“The first step in mitigating your social media risk, is to assemble a diverse team,”  says Miranda. Bringing in outsiders is critical.  This can include your HR, Compliance, and Marketing teams, your international experts, even your customers, to help keep an eye on what is working in your social media plan, as well as what could be construed as insensitive or offensive.

You Need an Official Social Media Policy

“The goal of policies is to reduce risk,” says Miranda.  Without a social media policy–covering both corporate and personal use–you are opening yourself up to a world of dangers and liabilities.  The release of insider knowledge, or private records, for example, can result in financial or brand damage.

While your overall goal is to mitigate the risk of a mishap, your policy should also be used to develop a recovery plan.  In the nightmare situations where you have released damaging information, you will need a plan to handle crisis.  As uncomfortable as it may seem, the best course of action is to remove the post, acknowledge it, apologize, and review your policy.

Last but not least, remember that your social media policy is clear and consistent for the entire company, including the boss!

About the Author

Greg Olsten is Ivy Exec's Sr. Content Manager, producing Online Classes, and Executive Intelligence articles.