Hey all, last week I spoke about how Cadbury has created a successful marketing campaign through the use of social technologies. This week I thought we could look at the flip side: The legal implications and risks associated with such social technologies and how Walmart mitigates these risks with the use of a social media policy. Again we will start with a brief background on Walmart as extracted from their Wikipedia Page. Walmart is an American multinational retail corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores. The company is the world’s third largest public corporation, according to the Fortune Global 500 list in 2012, the biggest private employer in the world with over two million employees, and is the largest retailer in the world.
Prankster Damages Walmart Goods
Before we look at Walmart’s social media policy, I thought it would be a great time to bring into context how social media had not only negatively affected the individuals in the following video but also Walmart’s image as a reputable company. The video depicts employees purposely throwing and damaging brand new iPads while in the Walmart stockroom. This video quickly leaked to YouTube and at last count was viewed by 560,893,242 users. While the employees might have thought of it as a joke both Walmart and the employees’ images were negatively impacted on with the assailants, in addition receiving immediate dismissal notices.
A spokeswoman for Walmart confirmed the incident and was quoted saying: “We’ve seen the video of several night-shift associates destroying merchandise in the back of one of our stores in August and, as anyone can imagine, it made us wince. We are also embarrassed,”
Social media brings several benefits but in turn presents its own risks. More prominent to Walmart are the Reputation and Statutory Risks as further emphasised in the above video. As I stated above the reputation of both the employees and Walmart was damaged. In addition to this the misleading and deceptive conduct combined with the act of defamation by the employees lead to Walmart having to take the brunt of the negative press involved.
Walmart’s Social Media Policy
Walmart does however have a social media policy currently in place. The following briefly summarises the policy employees must follow: basic rules (Ethics Policy, Information Policy and the Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy), be respectful, be honest and accurate, post only appropriate and respectful content, minimise use of social media at work, retaliation is prohibited and media contact is prohibited (without additional contact). Further to this policy, the National Labour Relations Board (USA) have commended Walmart on their Social Media Policy claiming it to be “the perfect social media policy”. In addition, if read in detail the policy clearly states how an employee must act in conjunction with social media and provides example cases to elaborate where required. This clear outline has in no doubt helped Walmart in its social media approach and strategy.
A Simple Conclusion
Even with this policy in place Walmart could continue to see further incidents arise with the use of social media tools. What the policy provides, however, is a deterrent and the legal grounds Walmart needs to deal with such matters.
With that comes the end of another post, we have looked briefly into Walmart, a damaging video and Walmart’s approach to risk mitigation through a social media policy.
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment.
P.S Click on the Images and Video to go to the owners site’s