Use Social Media Wisely

Should you allow employees to access social media outlets using CU resources?

April 16, 2012
KEYWORDS credit , media , policy , risk , social
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An increased presence on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter means credit unions must decide whether to allow employees access to these outlets using credit union resources.

If you currently use social media in your marketing strategy or will soon, your credit union should consider risks such as harm to your reputation, viruses, malware, and data leakage—as well as harassment, discrimination, and employment-related defamation.

Due to these risks, an across-the-board ban on visiting social media websites using credit union resources may be appropriate. However, if you decide to allow access, a social media use policy should be developed and communicated to staff.

Failure to  clearly outline the credit union’s social media use expectations through a written policy can significantly increase risk. Consider the following:

• Compliance risk. Compliance requirements must mirror those used when advertising on your regular websites.

• Network security risks. Users are more likely to trust information received via e-mail and messages from “friends” than strangers.

Users often are quick to click on links or open attachments received from their “friends” and unknowingly release viruses and malware.

• Data leakage. Beware the implications from information employees post on social media websites. Disclosing too much personal information may expose employees to identity theft.

Plus, employees may inadvertently post confidential information about the credit union, members, or their co-workers.Subscribe to Credit Union Magazine

• Reputation risk. Employees and others may post comments that may be viewed as unflattering to the credit union and other objectionable material that could harm the credit union’s reputation.

• Litigation risk. Advertising and personal injury is an injury to a third party that may be brought about by information posted on your social media website.

Best practices

If you allow access to social media websites via credit union resources, we recommend considering the following best practices:

  • Define social media usage expectations clearly in your policy;
  • State that employees may only access social websites consistent with the credit union’s security protocols (i.e., they may not circumvent information technology security protocols);
  • Educate staff on the risks of exposing confidential information about their employer, other employees, volunteers, and members;
  • Monitor social media use via credit union resources;
  • Outline expectations for reporting policy violations;
  • Enforce policy violations in a nondiscriminatory manner;
  • State that retaliation for reporting violations is not tolerated; and
  • Define personal off-duty use of social media. For example, supervisors should not “friend” their direct reports due to the potential sharing of personal information.

Employees should maintain a professional presence, remembering they’re responsible for content on their publicly accessible social media pages where they could be identified as an employee of the credit union.

Require employees use a disclaimer such as, “The following comments are my own. They’re not made on behalf of the credit union and are not intended to represent the credit union’s positions, strategies, or opinions,” when generating content that deals with the credit union or individuals associated with the credit union.

JONI LOVINGOOD is a senior consultant, risk management, with CUNA Mutual Group. Contact her at 704-236-8294.

The time for a policy is yesterday

Jimmy Marks
May 02, 2012 11:00 am
Good points all, Joni, and thanks for putting it in plain English. DigitalMailer has been consulting a number of clients and affiliates on social media, and the question always arises: "Well, what if someone says something bad about us?" The answer is, they might be already. Not seeing it doesn't mean it can't hurt you. Make sure that, if you're not offering an engaging social media presence, you're at least able to monitor the possible threats.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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