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Best practices for social media and business resilience

Solid business continuity and resilience depend on a thorough examination and update of company social media policies. Otherwise, you may have a disaster on your hands.

Social media originally provided a useful path for communicating in an emergency. But with such things as fake news, sites like Twitter and Facebook and how information is changing, organizations need to take another look at their policies on social media and how they use and manage it with regard to business resilience. In this article, we'll suggest ways to ensure that your employees maximize the benefits of keeping social media and business resilience in mind when planning continuity activities.

The dynamics of social media have been steadily evolving. Few people perform their daily activities without some use of social media. Usage of certain social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, has been changing, which clearly suggests that changes in the use of social media are in order.

Twitter has evolved into a means for communicating presidential thoughts, feelings and displeasure. Traditional media spends more time monitoring Twitter to see what the president is thinking than ever before. Facebook has faced considerable scrutiny for the use of data by an analytics firm to possibly influence voters during the presidential campaign. These were certainly not the original missions of social media.

Don't downplay social media's impact

Outages or disruptions of social networks, such as the April 2018 Facebook outage, must be considered as part of a social media strategy. While the Facebook outage lasted about a minute, its impact was felt worldwide. The message here is that, if social media is part of your business resilience strategy, make sure you use at least two social media networks so that, if one is disrupted, you can use another network.

An increasingly important aspect of social media and business resilience is protecting an organization's reputation.

An increasingly important aspect of social media and business resilience is protecting an organization's reputation. Social media plays a very important role in that effort. Any social media message that causes questions about a company's integrity, its employees and their truthfulness, and how the company conducts its business could seriously damage its reputation. Once an organization's reputation is called into question, it can be very difficult, time-consuming and expensive to restore that reputation.

Loss of reputation is a business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) event. It can result from a fire or snowstorm, a loss of IT or a breach in security. Or it can result from a social media message, such as a tweet, that accuses the organization of a questionable activity. Whether the activity is proven to be illegal or not, reputational damage can be done.

For example, Facebook stock values plummeted in the wake of its data scandal. The company lost several billion dollars in valuation in a matter of hours. That is certainly a BC event, where social media and business resilience come into play.

Social media and business resilience policies

If you haven't recently reviewed your social media policy, take a close look at it. What does it permit employees to do? What employee activities are prohibited? What actions can the organization take if an employee violates the policy? What kinds of messages can be sent? Which social media services can be used? Does the policy acknowledge that social media can also threaten the organization and its resilience? These are all important questions to ask as you review your policy.

Assuming you have a BC/DR program in place, hopefully, you also have a policy describing what the program will do. When identifying threats to the organization, are social media events included? If not, be sure to address them the next time a risk assessment is performed. When conducting a business impact analysis, remember to include social media threats as part of the analysis.

The benefits of social media are well-known, as are the risks. In addition to the communications value of social media in an emergency, organizations must increasingly consider potential security breaches and reputational damage via social media. BC/DR professionals must include social media and business resilience in their efforts to ensure that their organization's business continuity and reputation are assured.

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