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6 Social Media Threats You Need to Know About

Social media is an incredibly powerful medium that enables companies to access unfiltered consumer feedback and engage with customers and potential customers all while they build their brands and provide valuable information. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are all commonly used platforms in this endeavor, but social media for enterprises isn’t all like-ing and friend-ing.

For organizations, the reality is that there are some real risks to using social media ranging from damaging the brand to exposing proprietary information. Here are six of the biggest social media threats you need to know about whether your company is an active participant or sits more on the sidelines.

#1  Lack of a Social Media Policy

Whether or not your company is active in social media, your employees probably are. Social media mishaps occur all the time. People often say things on a blog, Twitter or their Facebook status that they later regret. But when it comes to your company’s reputation or confidential information, the results can be much more damaging. In terms of social media policies, every company is going to differ on what type of engagement is acceptable. A social media policy should outline for employees the corporate guidelines or principles of communicating in the online world and include what is necessary to protect the company legally and financially. Items to specify may include proprietary information, identifying themselves as employees, using disclaimers where appropriate, and speaking on the company’s behalf.

#2  Social Networking Sites

Even the most polished and experienced social media team can use the occasional refresher course on safe Internet use. To protect your company’s data and network, make sure that employees who use social networking sites, either as part of their job or just on their lunch breaks, are aware of the do’s and don’ts of careful Internet usage. Particularly when it comes to the big social sites, because hackers fish where the fish are as they say. The biggest threat is users downloading apps associated with these sites as many do not realize these apps actually download software to their individual work PCs along with associated spyware and viruses.

#3  Out of Date Network Security

It should seem pretty straightforward, but it’s important to make sure that you have the latest software protection and updates in place. Bad people and hackers spend countless hours every day finding ways to work their way into systems, creating malicious viruses and general mayhem for people they don’t even know. They are up to date with the latest and greatest techniques and methods so you need to make sure your systems are adequately armed to stop them. Work with your IT department to ensure that there is a process for making sure this happens.

#4  Employees’ Mobile Phone Apps

Sound crazy? The rise of social media is inextricably linked with the revolution in mobile computing, which has spawned a huge industry in mobile application development. Naturally, whether using their own or company-issued mobile devices, employees download dozens of apps simply because they can. But sometimes they download more than they bargained for. In early March 2011, Google removed from its Android Market more than 60 applications carrying malicious software. Some of the malware was designed to reveal the user’s private information to a third party, replicate itself on other devices, destroy user data or even impersonate the device owner.

#5  Lack of a Social Presence to Address a Crisis

You may not be ready to talk directly to the world via social media sites but the world is probably already talking about you. And if what they are saying is something that isn’t true, it needs to be addressed and explained. Or, for the lucky ones, where the talk is positive it should be praised. If you want to be ready to address online chatter, then you better have your channels of communication locked and loaded. As quickly as fun and quirky #news and #trends come and go on Twitter when good things happen, the negative events linger all too long and in too many places. The best position you can take is to be ready to react and respond when appropriate through the channels where the discussion is taking place. Waiting three days because your team can’t decide on a Twitter handle just doesn’t go over well with the public.

#6  Your Employees

You love them and you need them, but you knew this was coming. Even the most responsible employees have lapses in judgment, make mistakes or behave emotionally. Nobody’s perfect all of the time. Dealing with an indiscreet comment in the office is one thing, but if the comment is made on a work-related social media account, then it’s out there, and it can’t be retrieved. Just ask Ketchum PR Vice President James Andrews, who two years ago fired off an infamous tweet trashing the city of Memphis, hometown of a little Ketchum client called FedEx, the day before he was to make a presentation to more than 150 FedEx employees (on digital media, no less!).

This was a VP who should have known better and damaged his company’s brand and endangered an account. Imagine what a disgruntled low-level employee without as much invested in his/her job might be able to do with social media tools and a chip on his/her shoulder. The best offense is a good defense. Ensure all employees, at all levels, are well versed in, and diligently follow, your social media policies, as well as adopt a “read and think it through before you post” habit.

~Jackie Kmetz

Social Intelligence Crusader

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