15/02/2012

Robert Mackenzie, Partner, Business Technology and Consulting, Scott-Moncrieff

The Top Ten Tips

Increasingly, our lives are being impacted by social media. Initially, it may have been largely in the social sphere but it is happening more and more in the business arena.

Robert Mackenzie, a partner in the Business Technology and Consulting arm of accountancy firm Scott-Moncrieff, gives his Top Ten Tips on how business leaders can best manage the risks associated with social media.

1. Internet content filter

In the great majority of organisations, the current internet content filter can be configured to allow staff, or groups of staff, access to specific websites or categories of website. Other than the overhead required to configure this access, there is no technological barrier to controlling the granting of access to social media sites.

2. Monitor the access

Management have to ensure that there is effective monitoring of access to confirm that it is both appropriate and supportable.

3. Define who monitors the access

This is important; management need to determine who will be responsible for monitoring access to/use of the agreed websites etc. This can cause issues within an organisation unless it is sensitively handled at the outset, with a clear explanation of who is responsible, why they have been chosen and what their role entails.

4. Trust is the Key

Crucial to ensuring social media is used effectively is to explain to staff that the key foundation is trust — you trust them to act responsibly and in the best interests of the firm/organisation at all times when using social media. At the same time, it is also most important to set ground rules and make users aware of their expected behaviour when online.

5. User education

Having set out the parameters for use, responsible employers will understand that the most effective security controls are user education and training to raise awareness of the risks and promote good practice. This may seem obvious, but it must be done in a manner where the training underpins trust, which is fundamental to optimising the benefits of using social media.

Our experience has shown that the most effective methods of reducing the risks are not technical, but behavioural, and it is vital that users are given advice and training on how to use them safely. As many people use social media at home, they are likely to use it in much the same way when it is introduced in the workplace. The challenge is to break the bad habits picked up during non-work use and sell the benefit that safe-use habits promoted in the workplace will actually protect individuals in their personal use.

6. Develop a Social Media Policy

It is essential that the organisation develops a Social Media Policy, in addition to a Social Media Strategy, that defines the social media tools that are allowed and the expected standards of conduct/behaviour of staff when representing the organisation on these.

By setting out clear parameters it allows all users, from the outset, to understand the arena within which they are operating and what is expected of them. As well as assisting those who are monitoring access, there is no ‘wiggle room’ for anyone claiming they did not understand what the rules are!

7. Provide examples to support the Social Media Policy

The Social Media Policy should be supported with examples to provide additional clarity to users. This policy should also extend to personal use of social media sites so that staff are made aware that they should not make reference to any work, colleagues, their organisation, or any element of their work that could impact on relationships with stakeholders.

8. Meet legislative requirements

The organisation must ensure that the use of social media for business purposes is compatible with its responsibilities under the Data Protection Act, the Freedom of Information Act and other relevant legislation.

9. End user guide

It is advisable to provide an end user guide to be given directly to staff, reflecting best practice and the company’s policies towards the use of social media. This should be easy to read /absorb and reinforce the key messages set out in the formal policy document. Various tools are available ranging from laminated sheets through to video clips presented via social media tools themselves.

10. Keep anti-virus software updated

Finally - and it may seem to be a ‘no brainer’ - management must ensure that anti-virus software is kept up to date to minimise the risk of malware or viruses entering the organisation’s network.


For further information contact: robert.mackenzie@scott-moncrieff.com or 0131 473 3500


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