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GRC Professional : GRC Spring 2011
18 grc professional • Spring 2011 in dePth Yarra Trams faced A POTENTIALLY damaging social media problem in August this year when one of their drivers was discovered to have posted images on Twitter – taken with his camera phone as he was driving the tram – of sleeping passengers and car crash victims. He also published pornographic images and of fensive rants, some about victims of sexual violence. After facing various disciplinary hearings, the tram driver was sacked as the story reached fever pitch in Melbourne media. It was yet another reminder of the risks involved in the misuse of social media by staff members of an organisation. That same week a man who was sacked for posting on his personal Facebook page an expletive-laden rant against his employers at The Good Guys store in Townsville lost his unfair dismissal claim. (See page 21.) At the same time, there are an overwhelming number of organisations proving the stunning value of social media. Starbucks, for instance, after experiencing a contraction in their worldwide store count several years ago, has since developed the ‘My Starbucks Idea’ site, where members of the public can not only suggest ways that Starbucks might improve their business, including new product ideas, service standards and frequent-purchaser bonuses, but can also watch the progression of those ideas through the organisation and chat with Starbucks staffers. Dell has set up several similar social media communities and even fast food outlets such as Burger King have made impressive social media entries with their tongue- in-cheek Facebook application that encouraged users to sacrifice 10 friends for a free Whopper burger. There is no doubt that social media is an incredibly power ful tool for connecting and communicating with Removing the risk from social media social media has fast moved from an outlier to a business essential, but it’s not without risk for corporates. how then, does a business exploit the medium’s massive opportunities and at the same time manage its potential risks? By ChrIs shEEdy the risk involved in social media must be a focus, but those in charge have an equal responsibility to maximise benefits for the organisation. one’s market. Many argue, in fact, that it’s the most potent instrument brand owners have ever known in terms of market engagement. But the examples above also demonstrate the risk involved. In terms of governance and compliance, social media is a matter that goes way beyond the IT department. “Governance in general is about responsibility and accountability,” says Ross Dawson, Chairman of Advanced Human Technologies. Dawson is a governance and compliance expert who advises organisations and has specialist knowledge in social media. “The risk involved in social media must be a focus, but those in charge have an equal responsibility to maximise benefits for the organisation. Of course there are risks but there are great opportunities too. Focusing too heavily on the risks is doing the company a disservice. “Benefits must be identified and weighed up against the risks then processes, structures, guidelines and parameters must all be put in place to offer control. And governance needn’t be seen as a restriction – it actually liberates people to act and to conduct value-creating activities without any misunderstandings around the parameters that have been set.” Never forget, Dawson says, that social media is just as effective internally as it is externally. “The external use of social media is all about corporate reputation and customer relations,” he says. “Internally it’s more about communication, morale, knowledge sharing, workplace behaviour and productivity. So social media governance must be part of a broader corporate strategy. It must be closely aligned with the achievement of pre-set goals in several areas.” So how does a company police something as limitless as the world of social media to ensure their staff are actually following the guidelines? This is where technology
GRC Summer 2012