Beware social networking for business purposes

The IT Way manager Sam Blakeman with the social netorking site twitter which businesses are using to promote their services
The IT Way manager Sam Blakeman with the social netorking site twitter which businesses are using to promote their services
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A WIGAN IT firm is warning local businesses about adding clients on social networking sites.

As internet sites such as Facebook and Twitter become increasingly popular and companies become more savvy in the digital world, bosses at The IT Way today urged them to be aware what they are posting online and who they connect with.

Facebook is widely recognised as a site for personal rather than business use and the risk of merging professional and personal lives could result in a breach of client confidentiality.

IT Way owner Sam Blakeman said: “We often get asked by local businesses how they can use Facebook and Twitter to engage with their clients.

“Whilst using social media to communicate with customers can be beneficial, we always make people aware that anything said on social media can be accessed by others.

“Businesses should be aware that they have an obligation to protect the data of their customers whilst also protecting the image of themselves as a company.

“If a company builds up a large following of friends on social networks then the activities of their friends may not be something that the company wants to associate itself with.

“When asked for advice we always tell a company that if they are planning to use social media they should ensure their passwords are secure, they have set a high level of privacy and that they actively monitor their social media accounts to make sure anything that is unsuitable or incorrect is removed.”

The Law Society is also urging Wigan solicitors to think twice about communicating with clients on social networking sites.

President John Wotton said: “There could be several implications in adding a client on some social media sites.

“Your professional integrity could be questioned if details of your private life is revealed while the client could unwittingly post sensitive information on your page, which would compromise confidentiality or impact ongoing cases.

“You may think your profile is reasonably innocuous but you cannot always control the information other people share, such as comments or photo tagging.

“We advise keeping your professional life separate from your personal social networking activities.

“Anything posted online is accessible in the public domain.”

The Law Society suggests when making ‘friends’ with clients on Facebook, evaluate whether this may affect any of your ethical obligations.

And while sites such as LinkedIn, Biznik and Focus are considered by the Law Society as more appropriate for solicitors to add clients or colleagues as contacts, consider having systems and policies in place for the management of your firm’s social media usage.