Social media has grown so quickly that it can be hard to remember when it wasn’t part of our daily lives. Self-storage businesses can reap many benefits from promoting themselves on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other sites. Such interaction helps your business to stay relevant, provides free access to a large audience of potential customers, allows you to post real-time updates, and can help enhance relationships with prospective and existing tenants.
Social Media Benefits and Risks
The benefits of social media, however, are accompanied by risk. Users of social media may be subject to legal liabilities associated with other forms of publishing including the following:
• Reputational risk
• Lack of message control
• Defamation, libel and product disparagement
• Copyright infringement
• Breach of security, privacy or confidential information
Social Media Policy Guidelines
The first and most critical step in managing social media risk is to create a stand-alone social media policy. The policy should identify staff members who have the authority to use social media on behalf of the business and outline the approved strategy for posting. This communication strategy should encompass procedures for responding to negative comments and addressing customer complaints. The policy also may address identifying content that requires pre-approval before posting online and guidelines related to employee personal use of social media.
As with other corporate policies, your social media policy should address compliance and enforcement to include reporting mechanisms for violations of the policy and the consequences of noncompliance. It is highly recommended that you consult your attorney during the policy development process. Once the policy has been implemented, provide ongoing training and education for your employees to enhance their understanding and awareness of the risks.
Your insurance agent can offer 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.