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Tesco boosts social media, as research slams food industry

By Mike Stones , 14-Nov-2012
Last updated on 14-Nov-2012 at 12:40 GMT2012-11-14T12:40:43Z

Twitter threat: more than half of food businesses lacked a social media policy

Twitter threat: more than half of food businesses lacked a social media policy

Tesco plans to boost its social media presence by hiring Jude Brooks to lead its social media operations, in the week a new report suggested half of food businesses failed to operate an effective policy.

Brooks will join the retailer as senior marketing manager for social media in the New Year. Currently Coca-Cola’s interactive manager , Brooks will manage a team of about 10 specialists who look after Tesco’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts.

Meanwhile, nearly half of food businesses are vulnerable to employee abuse and reputational damage, because they lack a social media policy for their employees, according to a recent survey by legal firm Roythornes.

The research was based on questions asked to members of the Fresh Produce Forum, the British Frozen Food Federation and the Food & Drink Forum about use of social media in the workplace.

No controls

While more than 40% of firms allow staff to bring their devices in to work, 70% impose no controls in terms of what they can do with them.

The research followed an earlier survey by ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), which revealed that 55% of employees accessed social media during work hours. Also, 16% said they spent over 30 minutes a day on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Peter Bennett, head of Roythornes’ food and drink team, said: “There is an increasing trend for employees to bring their own mobile devices to work. While many employers are starting to allow this, the majority have not established controls for managing the very real risk of damage to their organisation in terms of lost productivity and reputational damage.

“If there is one message the research tells us it is that some organisations appear to be at real risk of damage to their business, their systems or their reputation if they do not ‘grasp the nettle’ of social media in the workplace.”

Data theft and viruses

Bennett added that the unregulated use of social media could expose the organisations to costly risks, such as data theft and viruses, plus lost productivity and reputational damage.

But only half (51.5%) of the businesses involved in the survey had some form of social media policy for their employees.

Also, 64% took no steps to monitor employees’ use of social media.

“All organisations should consider implementing a social media policy,” said Bennett. “Without ground rules in place there is nothing to gauge employees’ use, or abuse of social media in the workplace. Many of those firms who do not currently have a policy are considering it, or aware that they should have one. How strict the policy is depends on the organisation but some form of guidelines should be in place.”

Bennett suggested: “If policies do not place an outright ban on social media, they may contain a ‘fair use’ clause. What is ‘fair use’ is a subjective measure but, at the very least, it puts a safety net in place for the business should problems arise.”


Social media - in numbers

  • 50% of food businesses dont have a social media policy
  • 40% of firms permit staff to bring their devices in to work
  • 55% of staff access social media at work
  • 16% of staff spend over 30 minutes of work time on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

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