Social media has become so prevalent that it is sometimes hard to remember when it wasn’t part of our daily lives. But it just takes a quick glimpse at the tenth-anniversary celebration going on at Facebook, a social media titan with 1.23 billion monthly active users, to realize that the rise of this wide-reaching, culture-changing phenomenon has taken place in just the last decade.
There is no denying that social media provides many benefits for self-storage businesses. Promoting your facility on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other sites helps your business to stay relevant and provides free access to a large audience of potential customers. Social media gives businesses the ability to post real-time updates and can help enhance the relationship with prospective and existing tenants in a way that no other medium can replicate.
As with any business tool, however, the benefits are accompanied by risk. Social media is a form of publishing, and users may be subject to the associated legal liabilities. The most common types of social media risk and liability include the following:
• Reputational risk
• Lack of message control
• Defamation, libel and product disparagement
• Copyright infringement
• Breach of security, privacy or confidential information
The first and most critical step in managing social media risk is to create a stand-alone social media policy that identifies those staff members who have the authority to use social media on behalf of the business, outlines the approved strategy for posting including responding to negative comments, and details how the policy will be enforced. It is highly recommended that you consult your attorney during the policy development process. Another important step to mitigate exposures related to social media is to provide ongoing training and education for your employees to enhance their understanding.
Subsequent to implementation, the authorized staff should be monitoring your social media activity daily. Negative comments should be reported to you immediately. Depending on the traffic, it also would be beneficial to have a third party monitor activity each quarter to ensure compliance with the social media policy. As an owner, you also should be monitoring the site(s).
Finally, consult your insurance agent for advice about coverage to address social media risks. While a dedicated social media insurance policy does not yet exist, insurance products are available that may provide coverage to address your operation’s needs.
For more information about social media risks, I invite you to join me on April 1st at the ISS World Expo in Las Vegas for a presentation entitled Social Media and Online Marketing: Avoiding Exposure and Mitigating Risk. I hope to see you there!
President and CEO