Every company has its trade secrets, including yours, but keeping confidential information private in the age of social media sharing is challenging. Before a major leak gets out and creates havoc, take steps to plug any gaping social media holes in your marketing strategy.
Create a Social Media Policy
Without a social media policy in place, anyone who is actively participating in social marketing at your company can inadvertently or purposely share confidential product details or trade secrets. If this happens, protecting your business idea becomes an uphill battle. To avoid that, make a point of creating a policy now so you’re protected. Does this make you a social media party pooper? Not at all. You have every right to set guidelines about what is and isn’t allowed to be shared during social media marketing campaigns.
Consider Mandatory Nondisclosure Agreements
A cornerstone of your social media policy may be requiring everyone who creates and shares social media content on the company’s behalf to sign a nondisclosure agreement. The terms of this agreement can and should include strong language about not sharing certain information through social media posts or messages. Staff members must read it and sign it to lock in their compliance. Make sure staff gets a copy as a reminder that they may be legally responsible if they share company secrets. Unfortunately, while nondisclosure agreements are powerful tools, they’re not enough to stop all leaks. You need to build a solid wall of protection.
Set Down Rules and Regulations
Lay out specific rules for what type of social media messages are appropriate and what tone of voice to use for messages. Employees are speaking for your brand, so make sure they clearly know how to represent that brand. Do you prefer a casual or formal tone? Can they use humor, if so, is snark allowed? These are some of the things to think about.
Explain in detail what you mean by confidential information because vagueness can lead to mistakes. What are the boundaries of confidentiality? Who determines what is and isn’t confidential? Be specific about what you consider sharable information and what is considered non-sharable information that could hurt the company.
Focus on Social Media Training
The only way you’re really going to be sure your social media policy sinks in is to give your staff social media training. This can be an hour-long discussion that goes over the policy with a question and answer session afterwards or a more extensive training program.
Use an Approval System
Setting up a simple approval system is a great way to prevent trade secrets from going public. Find the most trustworthy people on your marketing team (or management) and give them the authority to approve every social media message before it goes live. A second pair of eyes can check for errors, the wrong tone, and whether a confidential business idea has found its way into the message. Sure, this slows down messaging speed, but you may decide safety is more important than being the fasted social media message producer in the Great White North.
Avoid Unsolicited Pitching
As they say, ideas are a dime a dozen. Another thing you should know about ideas is that they are not easy to protect once the cat’s out of the bag. Canadian intellectual property laws don’t extend to trade secrets, so giving your innovative ideas away during an unsolicited social media sales pitch is tempting fate. Competitors may get a hold of this information and use it to grow their own businesses, and you have no way to stop them.
Prevention is your best defence in this instance. Setting up a strong social media policy that includes an iron-clad nondisclosure agreement is the best way to protect against damaging confidential information leaks.