Social media policy needed to avoid risk

16 March 2012

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16 March 2012 | Angeline Albert

Procurement professionals were told to have a clear social media policy in place at their organisation to avoid any risks linked to staff accessing social networking websites.

Speaking to members of the procurement networking group the Blueprint Club, co-founded by a CIPS past president Shirley Cooper, Nick Thomas, a partner at law firm McGrigors, said procurement departments can seize the business opportunity and avoid the business risk of staff accessing social media by drawing up an effective policy.

Speaking at the London offices of McGrigors yesterday, Thomas said all individuals working for an organisation should be covered by the policy and it should be publicised and regularly reviewed and updated. Procurement managers must help enforce it, he added.

Social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pose business risks including damage to corporate reputation, loss of confidential information and loss of productivity. Business opportunities include professional networking and knowledge sharing.

Thomas told SM: “To be effective, the policy must be specific about what is meant by social media, specify what is prohibited and allowed. There must be rigorous and consistent enforcement. Respond to complaints promptly and review the policy regularly.”

When specifying prohibitive conduct, Thomas said the policy should clearly state that defamatory or disparaging comments regarding the employer, employees, customers, clients, business partners, suppliers, vendors or other stakeholders is forbidden and could result in disciplinary action. Social media postings should be consistent with the professional image employees and employers want to portray and should avoid comments on business-sensitive issues.

Earlier this month SM reported that buyers are split over whether or not use of social media to do their work is a good thing, according to the latest SM100 poll. Most purchasers surveyed said their organisation had no formal social media strategy. Some said they could not access social media at work.

Referring to social media access outside working hours, Thomas said: “You can’t stop employees using social media, you can only guide them in how to use it appropriately and explain to them the consequences if they fail to do so.” 

☛ Read today's blog by David Atkinson 'Beware what you share'

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