By now, you probably understand the huge impact social media is having on the world today.

For millions of Americans, social media is a prevalent part of their personal and professional lives. And many small businesses are learning to expertly leverage social media as an effective marketing tool.

But this raises a tricky question.

How do you manage personal and business communications to prevent social media problems?

As a business owner, you want your team members to be social media cheerleaders for your company’s brand. That’s important. But the combination of business and personal posts often collide in the social space, creating a minefield of potential social media problems.

Job applicants have been warned time and time again about the potential risks of having negative content floating around the web. But now, businesses of all sizes are faced with a similar risk caused by an employee’s personal conduct via social media. Not only can casual comments cause embarrassment and/or damage your brand, but the potential for litigation exists as well.

Taming an unruly beast

Social media provides a platform whereby employees can share all types of information that might be clearly forbidden in the office. For example, they can bad-mouth a client or divulge confidential information. Sexual harassment claims can easily arise from one employee stalking or making lewd comments about a co-worker. What if one of your employees bad-mouthed your business operations on his or her social media profile? Whether or not the comment was true, it could put your business in jeopardy.

While it is impossible to prevent all social media problems from arising, it’s important to create a social media policy for your team and make sure it is communicated clearly. For starters, everyone on your team, whether an employee or independent contractor, should know not to say anything about your business, customers, competitors or employees that they wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard or on the front page of the New York Times. Additionally, it is important that your team members don’t post comments that are not in sync with your company’s core values.

Social media should be an important part of your small business marketing mix, but you need to monitor it and establish policies for appropriate use.

Need help creating a social media policy? Check out the SBA’s website.

What is your social media policy? Share your tips with me below.

About the Author: Susan Solovic is THE Small Business Expert. Sign up for Susan’s Success Tips Newsletter and get your free copy of “Smart Marketing Strategies for Small Biz” ebook.