While consumer marketers have been harnessing the power of social media to engage customers in recent years, today it also holds remarkable opportunities for business-to-business (B2B) companies looking to expand their reach, and engage and interact with customers on a more personal level. Before fully involving your business in social media, it’s important to understand the risks to avoid potential disaster.
1. Protect Your Company’s Reputation
It is fairly easy for anyone to use your company’s trademarks to set up a social media site without your permission, so even if you don’t plan to market through social media, it’s crucial your team is monitoring popular sites. Some savvy businesses have been protecting their brands by registering their trademarks on popular social media sites, even if they don’t intend on using the sites.
If your business is already involved in social media, consider additional risks. Negative content, such as bad customer reviews or unfavourable comments, may appear on your company’s social media sites. While social media allows a company to more directly interact with customers (which can be a great thing) expect that customers can and will use your site to air grievances. It’s also important to be aware that incidents—especially negative incidents—travel globally in a matter of hours in social media, having the potential to lead to disaster.
Consistently monitoring the activity on your company’s social media sites is key; but being aware of content that may appear on third-party sites is equally important. Devise a plan to respond to negative content to protect your company’s reputation.
2. Security is Always Important Managing B2B Social Media Risks
Social media sites are not exempt from cyber-attacks and risks, such as viruses and spam. In November 2011, Facebook was the target of a hacker attack in which disturbing graphic images appeared in the news feeds of many Facebook® users. It’s important to monitor the content that is posted not only by your employees, but also by third parties. Report spam as soon as you see it, and avoid clicking on suspicious links.
Furthermore, it’s important to password-protect all of your social media accounts, in addition to limiting the number of employees who administer your sites.
3. Additional Ways to Mitigate Risk
- Create, implement and enforce a Social Media Policy. This policy sets the rules for how your employees should use social media on the company’s behalf. It is important that you train employees on your policy and enforce it once it’s been implemented.
- Assign a Community Manager. This could be one employee or a team who are trained on social media and are responsible for all of the company’s social media accounts.
- Devise a Crisis Response Plan. This is your company’s response strategy in the case that a crisis occurs through your use of social media.
- Involve your legal department at the beginning of social media planning.
The use of social media in B2Bs is increasing exponentially; but there still remains a lot of uncharted territory in which laws and business practices are evolving to meet the challenges that arise. To stay on top of the risks, contact C R Toogood & Co Limited today to learn more about our risk management resources and insurance solutions.