Latest Social Media Data Shows Food Businesses Remain Exposed to Social Media Dangers

Businesses in the food industry are leaving themselves exposed to risk when it comes to social media according to the third annual Social Media at Work Survey conducted by specialist food lawyers, Roythornes.

Members of the Fresh Produce Consortium, The Food and Drink Forum, the British Frozen Food Federation, the Artisan Food Trail and Tastes of Anglia were asked about policies and practices they had adopted in relation to social media use in the workplace.

The 2014 results show that despite the fact that 70% of businesses have some form of presence in social media, an incredible 43% have no policy on how it should be used.

In addition, the survey reveals that the number of firms allowing staff to bring their own devices in to work for professional purposes has increased significantly from 42% in 2012 to 54% this year. This coincides with a slight increase in the number of companies introducing controls over what employees can do on social media channels while in the workplace, however nearly two-thirds of businesses still do not have any controls in place whatsoever.

Peter Bennett, head of the Food and Drink team at Roythornes, said organisations are making themselves more open to reputational damage.

Commenting on the results Mr Bennett said: “The statistics are a little surprising given recent high profile incidents involving social media. The ‘overheard in Waitrose’ Facebook page and the Twitter debacle surrounding Sainsbury’s 50p challenge poster are examples of how social media can pose serious problems for the food industry.

“While both retailers responded quickly and appropriately, these cases evidence a real risk of reputational damage. Food businesses are well advised to take notice and implement policies and practices to deal with such an occurrence.”

The research also indicates that there remains over 30% of businesses who do not monitor their online presence.

Mr Bennett added,  “It is surprising to see there are still businesses that do not monitor their presence on digital platforms – reputational damage can still be done whether a business operates a social media account or not.

“We have stated for the last two years and continue to stress that without policies, rules and practices in place, the use of social media in the workplace will continue unmonitored and the consequences could be dire.

Mr Bennett concluded: “Those that have not implemented a policy or are not monitoring their online presence need to consider doing so, as the popularity of social media and the expanding number of channels means that robust, wider reaching policies are now needed.”

For full results and an infographic summarising the main findings please click on one of the links below:

Social Media at Work 2014 - full results:

Social Media at Work 2014 - infographic:

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