In our day and age, an organisation which isn’t ‘social’ is the equivalent of a white tiger: extremely rare and critically endangered. Mostly prodded by their ‘social’ audiences and stakeholders, companies have adopted social media and are now reaping its benefits. Social media engagement cannot be avoided, but companies should be aware that it can also cause major losses to companies. Symantec’s 2011 Social Media Protection Flash Poll proves this point without any doubt.
The research surveyed 1225 big enterprises (over 1000 employees) worldwide. Findings showed how pervasive social media risks have become: 94% of respondents experienced negative consequences related to social media.
In one year the typical company suffered an average of 9 social media incidents. The negative consequences of these incidents led to losses of $4 million/company (approx. 2.5 million £). The consequences include reduced stock price, litigation costs, damaged brand reputation/loss of customer trust and direct financial costs.
What caused these incidents? According to the survey, respondents nominated the following:
- Employees sharing too much information (46%)
- Loss/exposure of confidential information (41%)
- Embarrassment/damage to brand/reputation (40%)
- Increased exposure to litigation (37%)
- Malware (37%)
- Violating regulatory rules (36%)
Most organisations declared they were planning to address the risks by using various tactics: implementing social media policies (87%), employee trainings (86%), processes to capture confidential/proprietary data (85%), data loss protection (85%), technologies to manage data (84%), collecting sensitive information (82%). When it came to how many had already taken measures, the percentages were a lot lower: only 24% had social media policies set into place and 22% had trained their employees. 21% had set up processes to capture confidential data and had data loss protection, and 20% had the technology to manage the data.
Social media integration is a large-scale project that requires the alignment of 6 basic pillars: strategy, processes, policies, support, resources and supporting technologies. The time and personnel resources required for this alignment are considerable. What the results of this research show is that organisations that are postponing this effort are doing so at their own peril.
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