We are all aware of the impact that social media has had on a number of different industries including PR, Marketing and SEO, but is it always good to be so social? It is obviously true that a great social media campaign can go a long way to putting your business on the map and increasing its online presence, but it can also be very damaging to a company’s image if used in the wrong way.

2012 saw a spate of incidents in which the misuse of social media led to brands having to cover their tracks in order to protect their image. So in 2013, it is more important than ever for business owners and managers to not only run a successful social media campaign for their company, but to also keep tabs on what their employees get up to on the sites too.

 

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Learn From Other People’s Mistakes

Last year, two of the biggest fast food outlets in the world were hit by social media storms which were both caused by employees posting on personal accounts rather than a company posting from their official page. In July, a Burger King employee posted a picture on the social media site 4chan. The picture showed him standing in two tubs of lettuce with his shoes on and included a caption stating that this was the lettuce that we all eat at Burger King.

Similarly, a Taco Bell worker thought it would be hilarious to tweet a picture of him urinating onto a plate of nachos, thinking that the fact they were ‘going to be thrown out anyway’ would get him off the hook. Needless to say that both these individuals lost their jobs immediately. But are companies really doing enough to prevent the damage being caused in the first place?

Monitoring The Media

With the outreach that social media allows you, anything that is posted is instantly seen by millions and once it has entered the virtual world, it can’t be undone. Therefore businesses have to face up to the tough task of monitoring their employee’s use of these sites on and off the work premises. This may seem like a difficult thing to do, but regulations such as ‘no phones at work’ and a zero tolerance approach are sure to help.

It may seem like an invasion of someone’s privacy to constantly monitor what they are posting on social media sites, but it could be a necessary evil in order to stop the people that choose to abuse the privilege. Employers already check up on any potential employees via these sites before they hire them, so surely the next step is to let them know this will continue throughout their employment.

"Views Are My Own" Means Nothing

You see this written on many people’s profiles on various social media sites and for some reason they see this as a get out of jail free card. Just because you have stated that the things you post are your personal opinions, it doesn’t stop people associating them with the company you represent.

If you are a recognisable face in your industry or people know you work for a certain company, no amount of "views are my own" spiel is going to protect the brands image if you choose to post something controversial. It’s even less likely to help if the company logo can clearly be seen on your uniform and you are obviously at work at the time.

If things carry on the way they’re going, we could end up with employees being banned from using social media; even if it’s purely for personal use. At the very least, we may get to the stage where new workers have to sign some sort of agreement that limits their social media usage. Companies all around the world, from technology PR agencies to independent fashion boutiques, will vastly increase the public's awareness of them with the use of social media, but they could require an extra pair of eyes to keep track of just how much of a ‘social’ life their employees are having.