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Why employers must consider social media screening to avoid brand risk

NetWatch Global

Digbeth-based online screening and vetting company NetWatch Global have warned business owners in the Midlands of the risks associated with increase social media use by employees during lockdown. 

Tristan Prince, Group Chief Commercial Officer at NetWatch says: “It’s fair to say we have been living through a very strange and challenging time; that has changed the way that everyone in the UK lives and works. Many of our habits have been turned upside down as we have adjusted to lockdown.

People are increasingly using social media for their social interactions (both positive and negative) and using it as a platform to be heard by their local community, colleagues and customers”.

But with this said what are the risks being seen online that business owners need to be aware of during these times and how can their employees potentially negatively affect their brand and reputation?

Most Midland based employers will have seen and heard many things through social media during the lockdown period that have changed their perception on the people they employ. These are the people you have visibility of online but what about the employees you don’t follow and potential new hires?

Currently there is so much content being posted online and a lot of it appears to be ‘without filter’ – but what does this mean? During lockdown, unsurprisingly to many, the use of social media has rocketed. In basic numbers it looked like this:

  • Facebook - reported 50% increase in usage!
  • Instagram - reported 76% more likes!
  • Twitter - stated 18% increase in account registrations and 300% increase in volume of Tweets #COVID-19
  • TikTok - 27% jump in interactions and registrations
  • Snapchat - over 50% increase in content volumes across the board

But why should you care as an employer?

Without filter means that people are essentially ‘shooting from the hip’ when it comes to the content they are sharing, the comments they are making, and the way they are behaving online. They are just not thinking – but perhaps they should?

What individuals post says a lot about the person they are – and as an employer this can give you a wonderful insight about the people that you currently employee and the ones that have applied for a role at within your organisation.

Currently people are:

  • Posting more videos/images of day to day activities – both positive and negative
  • Willingly sharing that they are not working, when being paid to work from home
  • Posting non-PC content online – including anti-Chinese and racist sentiment
  • Sharing extreme political and social views that can be seen by your customers!

…all of which are warning signs for an existing or future employer!

On the flip side existing employees are increasingly sharing (often in graphic detail) what’s going on within their employer’s business; some of which can be extremely commercially sensitive. This includes how they’re being treated and in extreme instances we have seen a rise in organisations being targeted by ‘sock puppet’ accounts. These are online abusive social media being set up by disgruntled staff members. The accounts will often reveal extremely sensitive information and may include damaging or defamatory sentiments towards the business, brand or the directors.

Moving forward employing some individuals could have a catastrophic effect on your brand’s reputation and also the perception of your staff by customers and prospects.

Prince goes on to say: “I personally have seen a number of posts in Facebook shared and community groups and even on LinkedIn that have really changed my perception of people and the companies they work for - and I am sure you have too!

In times of crisis people reveal a lot about their ethics, values and personality online. The good people really shine, and the bad are quickly deleted, defriended or removed. The bitter taste they leave behind though is not easily forgotten and can easily sour your perspective on a supplier”.

So, what does all this mean for you as a business owner or recruiter?

Currently it is more critical than ever to include social media in your pre and post-employment screening and vetting process. The people that may be applying for roles in your organisation currently or over the next few months will no doubt have created a large online footprint during lockdown; some of which could be catastrophic to your brand and reputation!

How do you delve deeper and understand the type of person they are?

You can ask them questions at an interview but with NetWatch you can compliantly, legitimately and accurately screen and vet them via their social media to understand their ethics, values and personalities before you make your next hire.

If you’d like to talk about how online pre-employment screening and vetting can help your business, email enquiries@netwatchglobal.com