by: Ron Daly, President/CEO, DigitalMailer, Inc.
You know social media is everywhere, used by people of all ages and companies from every industry. Its widespread acceptance makes it a great tool for enhancing communication and awareness. It’s fun, interactive, convenient … and risky, as more companies are learning the hard way.
Here’s a startling example: A credit union employee secretly shot videos of members’ feet and posted them to YouTube using his smartphone. Reported by The Financial Brand, the online publication first learned about the videos through an automated Google Alert it received for tracking “credit union + YouTube.” The April 30 article reads, “Someone under the YouTube handle marajohn1123 had posted an odd video of a female credit union co-worker’s toes. When a similar Google Alert was triggered for another video, this time of a member’s toes, it was clear that a credit union somewhere had a serious problem with a serial voyeur. Presently, there are over 100 videos of women’s feet, all shot spycam style without the knowledge and approval of the victims.” (The YouTube channel has since been closed by the user, referred to as Marcus in one of the videos. He has yet to be publicly identified.)
Another hard lesson learned: Without a social media policy, a company’s exposure to legal problems and reputation damage can be significant. And it can be costly.
There are too many credit unions that think all they need to do is block employees from social media access at work. Problem solved.
You may block employees from accessing Facebook or Twitter on their work computers or other company systems, but what about their smartphones? How do you monitor what they’re saying or how much time they’re spending on social sites using their own devices? How much potential damage could there be in communications you don’t know about or aren’t monitoring?
Blocking employee access is not enough
Managing social media risk within your credit union and among public domains is essential – whether you are currently active in this space, planning to jump in or still weighing the options. But relying only on a policy in which you simply turn off access to employees’ use of social media at work or overlook posting activities on their public accounts is short-sighted. Employees with Smartphones in their pockets have access to social media anytime they want. And when they do access it, you’ll never know it until it is too late. There are social media monitoring tools available today that listen for conversations about your CU in social media networks, monitor what employees are doing in social media so you can manage and mitigate brand and reputation risk as well as tools with checks and balances that allow your employees to engage in social media with members that has been authorized by the CU for posting.
This is hard to conceptualize for some… keeping social media access open inside and outside your firewall allows your credit union to observe activities and remain alert to the potential risks. A good social media monitoring system may discover unacceptable employee activities long before the media gets a hold of it and allow you to deal with the issue before it escalates.
There are countless examples of employees trash-talking their companies or colleagues though social media, or inadvertently sending private messages to the masses – harming reputations, morale and bottom lines. When social media takes a negative turn, the consequences are far-reaching.
Think about the example from The Financial Brand – the legal implications regarding members and staff who were taped, the embarrassment and potential reputation damage in the public’s eyes (let alone among the credit union’s own members), the sense of mistrust among staff and members.
When social media mishaps happen at your shop – accidental or on purpose – your credit union is affected. It doesn’t matter if your credit union embraces social media or not. Your members and employees do – and they tend to blur the line between personal and business communication, making the case for monitoring social media both internally and externally.
You have policies in place for properly using your phone system and company email – so why not social media?
Social media policy must-haves
It was well-said by The Financial Brand: “If you don’t have one yet, this kind of situation should illustrate the gravity of need. If an employee posted something that you wouldn’t want on social channels – not necessarily stuff as bad/potentially illegal as what Marcus did, but bad just the same – a social media policy can give your organization the legal leverage you need to deal with the problem swiftly and without complications.”
A strong policy needs to clearly outline what your credit union defines as social media, what is expected of employees who use it, and what the consequences are when the policy is violated. And it must be monitored – for compliance reasons, for legal purposes, for employee morale and human resources decisions, and for protecting your image.
Social media is an integral part of our society – and with it, comes risk. All organizations – and particularly highly regulated institutions, like credit unions – need to manage social media risk, both within company walls and on public domain sites. You need a social media policy and a social media monitoring system.
Ron Daly is the President/CEO of DigitalMailer, Inc., a company helping credit unions connect with members through the latest online technologies, including Social Sentry, a social media risk monitoring system. To learn more, visit www.digitalmailer.com or call 866-994-4900.