Social media report confirms food brands remain at risk

Two thirds of brands in the food industry are continuing to fail to safeguard cyber security and online reputation according to Roythornes Solicitors.

The fifth annual Social Media at Work survey completed by specialist food lawyers Roythornes and marketing communications agency, Pelican Communications, polls a wide range of businesses, examining the policies in place and common practice regarding the use of social media in the work place.

This year’s report confirms that while awareness of the need to monitor online presence has increased dramatically to over 90% in 2017, 62% of businesses still do not monitor the use of social media by employees in the workplace.

Coupled with the lack of an effective policy concerning the use of personal devices such as tablets and smartphones at work – 56% of those polled confirmed they did not have a policy – many businesses remain at real risk, leaving themselves open to reputational damage as well as other cyber threats.

Phil Cookson, a partner at Roythornes who specialises in social media and employment law, said: “It is encouraging to see the continuing increase in awareness of the need to monitor what is being said online but the lack of robust policies should be of significant concern to those businesses who have not yet put any in place.

“The cost of repairing reputational damage can be difficult to quantify but the effect can be sever and long lasting. The cost of preventative measures and putting the appropriate protections in place by comparison is a relatively small cost on the bottom line.”

The report also examines where responsibility for social media activity lies. While 54% of businesses surveyed confirmed that their marketing team was responsible for generating and managing social media content, 58% indicated that content was generated by a combination of sales teams, customer services, HR or other business functions. 18% of those polled confirmed that responsibility lay with a dedicated external agency.

Phil Cookson added: “Whoever is responsible for social media, whether internal or external, needs to be fully aware of the remit, objectives and restrictions of social media in relation to the business concerned.”

Michael Bennett, managing director of Pelican Communications, said: “With the vast majority of consumers now active on one or more platforms, social media must clearly form an integral part of the marketing mix for almost all brands.

“But while the commercial use of social media can be said to have matured in the last few years – growth in the use of YouTube and LinkedIn being particularly noteworthy – of equal importance to any promotional strategy are the policies which will protect a brand.

“In an age of fake news and Fancy Bears – the hacking group which stole medical data claiming it would continue to expose athletes using banned substances – such concerns should not be taken lightly. Ultimately, having the right policies and protocols in place will ensure consistency in brand image and tone, as well as protecting the business against misuse of social media and wider cyber risks.”

For more information and to view the full report and the rest of its findings, visit: http://bit.ly/2mzeVR1

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