Social Media Risk Assessment with Glen Gilmore

The Social Media Law BibleWith social media risk assessment becoming more mainstream, we asked attorney Glen Gilmore — a veritable social media risk management expert — to share his take on the risks and opportunities social media in the workplace presents to employers and employees alike.

Glen is the author of the upcoming book Social Media Law For Business from McGraw Hill. He also teaches Digital Marketing, Crisis Communications and Social Media Law at Rutgers.

1. Which industries have the most to gain by training employees to comply with State and Federal Laws when they use social media?

Every industry has much to gain by training their employees in the compliant use of social media – and much to lose by not. There’s a misconception that it’s only highly-regulated industries that have much to lose by social media missteps. This isn’t so. Reputational damage can be steep when a social media campaign runs out of control because of a failure to understand that rules that govern social media conduct.

Additionally, it’s not only damage to reputation that business have to fear if they fail to comply with the rules of social media engagement. They could actually find themselves paying hefty fines.

2. Which industries have the most to lose by not training employees on how to use social media lawfully?

Healthcare, the financial services and the pharmaceutical industry are the most highly-regulated industries when it comes to social media marketing. In healthcare, improper disclosures of personally-identifiable information through social media have not only caused hospitals great embarrassment, they have also led to employee dismissals, state health board sanctions and lawsuits. Fines can be staggering and penalties can include criminal sanctions.

In the financial services, social media missteps can mean exposure to billion dollar lawsuits and the loss of licensing. The same applies to the pharmaceutical industry.

3. Is social media compliance more important to B2B or B2C companies?

Since social media non-compliance can quickly lead to reputational damage and the loss of brand trust, it is equally important to B2B and B2C companies.

4. Which employees by job title present the greatest risk to employers if they use social media at or for work?

Social Media Law GuruIt’s a mistake to think of social media compliance only in terms of the negative. Companies should be looking at social media policies and training as ways of empowering employees to be compliant.

When marketing and business competition is being played out on social platforms, businesses need to be figuring out how to get their employees through social media training in an expedited manner. Silos are falling down and companies are recognizing that just about any employee, in an absence of social media governance, can change the hard-earned image of a brand in a single tweet or a video post.

5. What are some common ways you see employees get in trouble as a result of social media?

Putting aside the employee who does something painfully stupid on social media, good employees most often find themselves in harms way on social networks when they are trying to be good brand advocates, yet, haven’t been given the guidance or training to do so in a compliant way. This is unfortunate as the consequence is often substantial damage to a person’s career as well as to the employer company.

6. What are the benefits of enabling all employees to use social media effectively and responsibly for work?

Employees can and should be among the best brand ambassadors. Without proper social media training – which needs to be ongoing as regulations and best practices within the space are continuing to evolve – a “social” employee can quickly become a liability rather than an asset. This a real lost opportunity for businesses.

Connect with Glen on Twitter, through his Linkedin Group on Social Media Law (open to non-lawyers), his Google+ Page on the same topic.