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Sensitising employees about responsible online behaviour

Sensitising employees about responsible online behaviourSocial media blunders quickly spread virally on the social web. In fact, often employees are the ones to post risky content and cause harm to stakeholder relations and a brand’s online reputation management, writes Maritha Pritchard, Lecturer at University of Johannesburg.

Whilst freedom of expression is valued, there remains a need to sensitise employees about responsible online behaviour. A quick search on the Internet provides many examples of CEOs, senior politicians and staff members who post compromising images and offensive comments on the social web.

Training and awareness about responsible online behaviour has become a necessity in the contemporary Web 2.0 age where anyone can freely publish and share information with millions of others across the globe. Even more so, disgruntled employees may start their own Facebook hate groups or parody Twitter accounts at the click of a button. In times of crises and disasters especially, employees may be tempted to post dramatic video footage and graphic photos of injured colleagues as the crisis unfolds. Emotional first hand experiences will then be picked up by traditional media as additional sources of information.

Whilst traditional media policies restrict the role of the spokesperson to certain individuals, the social web makes it possible for any employee to comment about the brand publically. Therefore, social media policies need to provide clear guidelines on responsible online behaviour supported by regular awareness campaigns.

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