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Maintaining a Positive Online Presence with an Effective Social Media Policy

An online presence is important in today’s market but can often be a double-edged sword. While companies can utilize social media accounts in a positive manner to increase exposure, popularity, profitability, and interact with clients, platforms also allow for negative feedback, either from dissatisfied customers or possibly disgruntled employees. As a result, when creating a social media strategy, businesses must be prepared to swiftly and properly address negative criticism in order to move forward and maintain a positive online presence.

To start, your business should consider a variety of factors in creating, maintaining, and perfecting a social media policy. That policy should advise the customer and user of the terms of service, provide an aligned strategy across the utilized platforms, hold those who violate the terms accountable, and provide the necessary information you want employees and customers to be aware of when utilizing.

Recognizing that you will not be immune from criticism or negative comments, a developed policy will help when handling different situations and conversations with customers or users who have submitted criticism, whatever the reason. Addressing issues in conjunction with developed policy as quickly as possible is important, as it goes without saying that information, both positive and negative, can spread like wildfire across social media, making it more difficult to contain. Providing immediate honest feedback in a concise manner is essential to quickly resolve a crisis that may arise online.

Through policies, such as a social listening policy, a business can monitor what type of information is being shared online. These policies provide information relative to who is talking about the business, about competitors, the industry, and can focus on searches for negative feedback, as well as other pertinent demographic information. Adequate oversight is essential, as misuse and disclosing of inappropriate or sensitive information should be avoided. While promoting social media awareness amongst employees, consideration should be given to limited account access, and a final review of posts by those designated for that purpose. Those employees who are allowed access to the accounts should be trained to be aware of company policy and what may constitute inappropriate use. They should also be trained on how to identify and handle negative comments and feedback on social media accounts. To that end, the establishment of a best practices to further develop a strategy and policy should be considered, as well as having a designated group to manage and review accounts, respond to comments, and determine the best course of action to respond to those comments which present a challenge or potential for conflict.

In electing to respond to comments, responses should be made with thoughtful regard and consideration should be given to the possibility of no reaction to negative online comments. In some instances, negative comments are made by individuals whose sole reason for posting may be just to get a reaction. These individuals are commonly referred to as trolls. De-escalation should be the intended result, not further adding fuel to the fire and risking viral exposure.

In the event the situation escalates to the point of possibly initiating legal action, a record should be maintained. Developing a record, including downloading and saving statements and information, together with screenshots of communications, where possible, will help the process. It is important, considering the possibility of legal action, to be mindful of any responses posted, as a knee-jerk reaction will not be helpful. Honesty and mitigation are key in dealing with negative commentary.

It is crucial for your business to develop a thoughtful and sound social media policy, and, together with adequate monitoring and oversight, maintain a positive social media presence. Our team has extensive experience in counseling business and compliance matters. If you have any questions regarding this legal briefing, please contact our office at 585-730-4773. Please note that any embedded links to other documents may expire in the future.

Maintaining a Positive Online Presence with an Effective Social Media Policy
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This Legal Briefing is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or counsel. The substance of this Legal Briefing is not intended to cover all legal issues or developments regarding the matter. Please consult with an attorney to ascertain how these new developments may relate to you or your business. © 2021 Law Offices of Pullano & Farrow PLLC


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