Social media is an outstanding marketing tool, and a great way to communicate with people all over the world. However, it also opens individuals and businesses to a number of security and reputation issues.
Whilst many retailers have embraced the use of social media as a means to communicate with consumers, the misuse of the tool, very often by employees wishing to vent their frustrations has become a growing problem for many retailers.
Recent figures released by the University of Pennsylvania claim that 86 per cent of social media users have regretted posting something online, whilst a further six per cent admit the content has led to problems in the workplace.
Social media strategist Kunal Ghandi said: “Although you may be saying something on your personal profile, your privacy settings will determine if only your friends can see your post or if everybody can. Even with great privacy settings, there’s nothing stopping anybody on your friends list taking a snapshot of something that you have said that may prove to be controversial, and land you in hot water if it is something about your employer or colleagues.”
Research carried out my Marketing Professor Jonah Berger suggests that a high level of emotions drive users to over share large quantities of information online, which at times include private and confidential information.
In 2011, Argos employee David Rowat was fired for breaching the company’s social networking policy, after complaining about his job on Facebook. The employee of 13-years insisted his post was a ‘little grumble’ however Rowat was dismissed for gross misconduct.
Recent advice published online, suggests social media users should know when not to cross the line, and should be fully conscious of the implications over-sharing information can cause. Furthermore, the advice reminds users that publicly disclosed information can harm both an individuals and business’s reputation.
‘My advice to those sharing content on social media sites would be to set limits for yourself and think twice before you post any personal pictures that may appear to show you in a negative light. My golden rule is if you wouldn’t openly say it to a roomful of people, don’t say it on a social network site,” Ghandi adds.
Last year high street retailer Topman was forced to remove two of its clothing lines from sale, after the featured graphics created a storm on Twitter. Furthermore, fashion chain River Island experienced a series of defamatory comments on their social media pages, where both employees and consumers were involved in a series of hate comments towards the privately owned store.