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Legal risks still concern social businesses

02.07.2013
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Last year the Altimeter group released some research into the key fears executives had when using, or not using, social media.  The four biggest risks identified were:

  1. Damage to brand reputation
  2. Releasing confidential information
  3. Legal violations
  4. ID theft

Some new research, conducted by agency Immediate Future, of UK companies supports this perception, with legal concerns topping the list of what executives are worried about.  Despite this concern however, many are still not regarding mitigating this risk as a priority.

Katy Howell, CEO at immediate future, says, "Social media is a serious business. Companies are increasingly connecting and interacting with customers, exposing the business to increasing legal ramifications. There is a need for more information, education and greater investment of time to get up to speed with the legal aspects of social media.

"Some companies are only starting to outline guidelines and one fifth of those who responded did not have a social media policy at all. Well aware of the legal threats, businesses should now start planning, training and developing processes and structures to protect the company".

For those that do want to mitigate this risk however, Altimeter outlined the stages to go through.

  1. Identify the risk- First things first you have to identify the risks you face.  These could be a risk to your brand, a leaking of confidential information, legal violations or identity theft.  Altimeter found that the most common threat was to a companies brand, but if you investigate potential sources of risk you may come up with something more specific to your own situation.
  2. Assess the risk - Next you have to assess how likely that risk is to do you damage.  It’s basically a bit of probability analysis.  Couple up the likelihood of a risk happening with the damage it would do if it did occur to give you a decent understanding of the risks you face and the damage they can do.
  3. Manage and mitigate the risk – The next step is to deal with the risk.  You might be able to eliminate it completely (unlikely) or you might be able to reduce the odds of it occuring, or indeed mitigating the damage should the worst materialise.  Common strategies here include providing outstanding training on how staff should behave on social media and what you expect from them when they use it.
  4. Monitor and evaluate the risk – As with most things like this, you should never be completely satisfied, so the final step is to regularly review and regulate their existing risk strategies to take account of both the success of the current strategy and the changing landscape within which they operate.