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by Jennifer Lumba   | September 14, 2014
Privacy is once again dominating the headlines amid news of celebrities suffering embarrassing leaks. Keeping secrets can be tough in the always-on, interconnected world in which we live.
 
Lawmakers are nevertheless trying to help. In the U.S., legislators in California and Rhode Island are deliberating bills designed to protect kids and employees from prying eyes while engaging in social media. We have no way of knowing whether these measures or others like them will take hold, or what impact they might have.
 
Meanwhile, the very social media vehicles that spread gossip and scandal are necessary tools for marketing in the modern age. Silence isn't an option. How can you engage on the Internet and still keep your most important data behind the firewall?  Here are 10 tips:
 
1. Use the "reshare" rule. Just like the Golden Rule in life, the "reshare" rule is to never share anything on social media that you wouldn't want reshared. Not sure? Err on the side of caution. There's always time when it comes to deciding how to share questionable information.
 
2. Rewrite. You can also rewrite. Say you have a post that may include a bit too much comprising information. Set it aside for a day and come back to it with fresh eyes. Can you deliver the message you want without sharing so much private information? If not, trash it. If so, rewrite and post.
 
3. Set guidelines. Clarity is your best weapon when it comes to preserving privacy in the social media era. Write and distribute a policy with guidelines for what is considered to be out of bounds. But don't stop there. Include best practices for social media engagement; make it a teaching document rather than a reprimand.
 
4. Tease, appropriately. Generating views and followers on social media is no different than in any other form of media. Good headlines and provocative copy generally produce action. Be aggressive but appropriate, and know the limits of good taste. Salacious promises aren't the worth long-term damage to your reputation.
 
5. Be a good follower. Are your friends and acquaintances on social media behaving with integrity? Refuse to participate in violating another's privacy, even if a leak is live and making news. Model the behavior you want to see in your own network.
 
6. Block or ignore those that insist on sharing private data. Your network may include particular miscreants who insist on sharing private data. While your job isn't to correct them, you can limit their influence by blocking or unfollowing.
 
7. Provide an outlet for the curious. Don't stonewall, especially if you cater to curious customers. Instead, use a blog to host Q&A sessions with executives. Or host a live chat where customers and managers can engage openly.
 
8. Use filtering software. Sometimes, the automated approach works best. Filtering software allows your technical staff to set rules for what you can and can't post, and what you can and can't see on social networks. You won't be as motivated to engage using these tools, but you'll also be safer.
 
9. Get an editor. For a more practical option, find a co-worker you trust for vetting questionable posts. The delay won't hurt your ability to engage, and your posts may benefit from the occasional dose of fresh thinking.
 
10. Learn from the best. Which of your peers is known for her ability to cultivate a huge audience? What can you observe from her habits? Track her best practices and then employ them in your own outreach.
 
And make sure you do keep reaching out. The Web isn't a safe place. Breaches happen all the time, and sometimes the leaks are mortifying. Press on anyway. For all its faults, the Web and social media remain the cheapest and most efficient channels for connecting with prospective clients.
 
Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions. Built on state-of-the-art technology, Rideau's employee recognition and customer loyalty programs change the way companies recognize employee service and achievement, reward individual and team performance, strengthen customer relationships, and create brand loyalty. Lumba can be reached at jenniferlumba@rideau.com.