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Eight social media risks the board can’t ignore

04 September 2014 | 04:01 am

We were delighted to discover this week that we had been shortlisted by CIR (Continuity, Insurance & Risk) Magazine for ‘Risk management product of the year.’

In our submission we were asked to explain the key risks of social media and of course how we as a business help our clients to tackle these issues. If you have been a regular reader of our Boardroom Basics blog you will already know the challenge we find that the board of directors have in defining, explaining and educating their senior management teams and employees about the risks of social media.

We do believe that things have come a long way since late 2012 when the team attended a marketing conference and overheard an enthusiastic (and incredibly naïve) marketing consultant present a very upbeat message about getting employees tweeting, with the call to action “everyone should give social media a try, what’s the worst that can happen?”

The bottom line is that there are many risks associated with social media and the same due care and attention should applied when setting up a new social media channel, in the same manner of any other channel of communication.


Eight key social media risks:

  1. Theft of company owned assets: There have been a number of examples of popular Facebook pages and Twitter profiles being lost or ‘stolen’ when an employee leaves an organisation.
  2. Sabotage: The HMV example of a disgruntled employee highlighted how damaging to a brand’s reputation an employee could be, if they took control of the social mouthpiece of the organisation.
  3. Login security: Research has shown that social media access and passwords have often been shared widely. The result has been a number of high profile cases (particularly in the public sector) where anonymous posts, attacking the organisation, which were posted from within could not be traced to the originator.
  4. Audit trails: With social media moving up the risk register there has been increasing pressure on organisations to manage social media risk more effectively. Providing audit trails of who posted what, when and recording the conversation arising with customers is now an essential element of social media risk management.
  5. UK data compliance: Many of the popular social media platforms are located in the US. Many governance policies now dictate that social media management tools need to store social media interaction in the UK in accordance with UK data compliance.
  6. Defamation and the law: In the UK, the Defamation Act 2013 has strengthened the protection of channels such as Facebook and Twitter, which will encourage those who have been subject to libel to pursue someone else responsible for the media post or repost. The impact and extent of social media reach and the damage arising is a considerable risk to organisations.
  7. Trolls and brand terrorists: Increasingly protection of the public, who are using a brand’s social media asset is becoming a necessity. The more popular a Facebook page or a LinkedIn group, the more likely it is to be spammed or targeted for abuse. Organisations are expected to moderate and protect engagement within the social media environment.
  8. Security: The hackability of online products is being tested day in day out by those determined to unlock precious information. A number of social media platforms have been hacked over the past years with devastating effects for users.


It is really pleasing to see more organsiations taking the time to audit the level of risk associated with their social media activity. This is leading to the tightening up of social media policy and much greater understanding of the practical elements of the management and delivery of social media. A great example of this is the newly released FCA guidelines providing advice and guidance to the financial services sector.

It is also great to see that that professional bodies such as the Institute of Risk Management and Chartered bodies associated with all boardroom director roles are spending more time at conferences and events discussing the key issues around the risk of social media.

As a director of an organisation our best advice is to get proactive with your approach to social media.  Challenge the marketing team on the difficult questions to ensure that you protect your brand, your customers and your bottom line!


CrowdControlHQ is the UK’s leading social media risk management and compliance platform built for enterprise.  Our software provides a suite of crowd engagement features alongside risk control features to help organisations to successfully manage the risks.


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