Business Paranoia of Social Media.

The “great fear” of businesses globally is that their employees are going to commit them to unspeakable liabilities and ultimately “twitter” their business away. Could this really happen? If you ask any business attorney they will of course tell you absolutely or at the very least possibly. My question then is how is this any different than emails, text-messages, recorded conversations (especially in one-party states), voice-mails, letters, verbal conversations… etc.? While I’m not an attorney common sense would tell me that while each of these “technologies” have their differences they are all areas of possible worry and liability. So why the business paranoia on only the new social media venues?


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Well… they’re new. Most business owners and upper managers really have no clue on what the new social media technologies are and what can and can not be done with them. This makes them nervous. Then they read about the latest tweet causing havoc with a business and/or employee and nervous becomes full-on paranoia. For some reason an email doesn’t have the same affect however. Yet we read article after article of emails implicating people, companies, and government. Bottom line, all company communications should be taken serious.

“The most successful marketer becomes part of the lives of their followers.” -Marsha Collier

There are obviously many takes on whether social media will be a force in marketing and support for any business ultimately. In my mind the answer is simple. Of course it will. One has to only look around at the Gen Y group and the technologies they’re using to start to see what lies ahead. I can remember not that long ago that there wasn’t a business in the world that would let their employee email an attached contract for review and/or signature. Credit card purchases had to be physically run and not taken virtually. Obviously this is common place today. Doing business has changed and will continue to do so. There’s the rub. If a company hides behind legalities and paranoia and doesn’t wrap their arms around all communication technologies won’t they be left behind in the near future?

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What should a business owner do?

As most of you know… as soon as you hire any employee potential communication liabilities automatically exist. Nothing new here. Educating your employees of what is tolerable and what is not is imperative. Here are a couple of ideas. Again, I’m in no way trying to replace solid legal advice only offering suggestions.

      1.) If you currently have guidelines for employee communications add social media correspondence to the policies.
      2.) If they are writing about anything that has to do with your business they need to know they need permission to do so. Even the simplest comment, criticism, and commitment can be a problem.
      3.) They need to know that once it leaves their PC it is out there in social media “neverland” literally for ever.
      4.) They need to understand that there are data collectors collecting all that is said.
      5.) Finally, and most importantly, all of the above apply even if its their personal social media account.

It is just as important to guide/train in not only what not to do but how to do it successfully. The new technologies can be very successful if used correctly. My organization is getting great leads/sales and industry information from social media. It’s a powerful tool if used correctly. Embrace it, train on it, and for heavens sake stop being paranoid.

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Chris Lott is a business solutions consultant with over 10 year’s sales management experience including business ownership, product management and marketing. He also owns and contributes to SalesBlog! and totallysales.


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