For many employees, there is often the incorrect assumption that their actions online are entirely private. Many companies monitor their employee’s actions to ensure a positive corporate reputation is maintained, especially online reputation. No employer wants to have to exercise their public relations crisis management procedure in response to unintentional or intentional disclosure of information or an inappropriate customer service response.
Here are a few areas to consider when communicating to your employees about managing the online reputation of your organization.

1. Posting on Personal Social Media Accounts Inappropriately

It is important to emphasize, when addressing employees, that their online behavior reflects on the company, whether or not they believe their accounts to be private. The Internet keeps records of everything, regardless of whether it is deleted or archived. As a result, inappropriate use of social media – particularly when on the job or in the office – can come back to both the individual and the company in the form of negative reputational risk.

It would be unwise to suggest that employees should not have the full rights to their own personal expression. However, it can cause irreparable damage to their personal reputation, future hire-ability, and trustworthiness if their content comes across as insensitive, inappropriate, or discordant to the values held by their place of employment. A positive online presence goes a long way.

2. Posting Private Information

Just as posting on social media or other areas of the internet with personal opinions should be treated with caution, employees should also be advised not to divulge private or company information online. Employees can put themselves and the company at risk by sharing personal private information or company confidential information – for example, intellectual property, financial performance, bank account numbers, account logins, customer info or user IDs.

Again, for their own protection as much as the company, it is worthwhile to discuss these concerns. Relatedly, it would be worthwhile to discuss “phishing”, scams, and malware (including ransomware) with employees. If an employee clicks on an unknown link, for example, they could install malicious software onto the computer or network, risking further exploitation. Employees should stay away from anything that seems suspicious, or otherwise consult others within the company, before clicking on links.

3. Poor Communication Through Company Customer Service

Lastly, an employee can have a negative impact on brand reputation that can cause corporate reputation damage if they are responding inappropriately to a customer or client through the company’s social media accounts. Online reputation management, in the form of online reviews, star ratings, social media comments or other aspects is key for any organization in today’s connected world. Hopefully, employees know that when in the company’s
Customer service portal or social media accounts, they speak directly as a voice for the business; however, it should be reasserted that anything inappropriate that exists within that communication is an issue. It goes without saying that you would feel uncomfortable if a representative of a company whose services you had enlisted was behaving inappropriately; the same rules apply for an employee of your company, regardless of what privacy they may believe they have.

Positive customer experience is the goal – employees should be briefed on what is or is not deemed appropriate behavior by their employer. In addition, the company should have an acceptable use policy that employees must agree to that outlines expected behaviors.  Employees that understand the boundaries set by their employees are more likely to keep their postings respectful thereby protecting the company reputation and avoid posting any personal information for their own safety.

And just as in their personal lives, remind your employees that the internet never forgets. Once information is posted to social media or online review sites, overall reputation (personal or organizational) can be negatively impacted.

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