Mitigating Social Media Risks in Companies

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Managing a company’s social media risks is an increasingly crucial responsibility.In today’s connected world, an estimated 3.8 billion people use social media, according to We Are Social’s Digital 2020 report. With billions online, many companies are up against increased social media risks – and the consequences can be significant if not handled properly, according to The Conference Board’s 2017 report on “The State of Digital and Social Media Risk Management.”

“Social media is the most immediate threat to your company’s reputation,” Pete Knott, digital consultant at reputation management consultancy Lansons, told BBC News in a 2019 article, “How social media could ruin your business.” “If not taken seriously, it can and will directly impact your company financially and culturally.”

Phishing attacks and scams, imposter accounts, and human error are a few of the social media risks companies experience, the Hootsuite article, “8 Social Media Security Tips to Mitigate Risks” noted. Having a social media risk mitigation strategy in place can help companies prepare to deal with emergency situations, according to Sysomos, now Meltwater Social, a company that works with brands to leverage social insights.

Managing the hazards and threats to a company’s social media is an increasingly crucial responsibility for those in occupational health and safety careers.

Online emergency management degree programs such as Eastern Kentucky University’s Online Master of Science in Safety, Security and Emergency Management can prepare graduates to deal with these and other contemporary security issues.

Risks that Can Arise from Social Media

Social media is an integral part of many companies, offering benefits such as generating leads, increasing brand awareness, and boosting sales, according to Hootsuite’s “23 Benefits of Social Media for Business.” However, it comes with variety of risks, including:

  • A company’s social media profiles are closely tied to its “share price and business performance,” according to PwC, a global accounting and business services firm.
  • Companies may see operational impacts from social media if the roles and responsibilities of the accounts are not defined, including dedicating time to manage the accounts on nights and weekends, Insufficient oversight over multiple social media accounts for brands can “lead to poor quality content,” PwC noted.
  • Brand reputation. Negative reviews of the company or a product can have a negative impact on a company’s brand. “The key to online reputation management is handling negative feedback quickly to prevent it turning into crisis,” Masha Maksimava, a vice president at the Belorussian social monitoring company Awario, told BBC News.
  • Regulatory compliance. Companies should adhere to advertising rules on social media because regulators are scrutinizing the activity. Companies that ignore regulations may face warnings, fines, and penalties.
  • Human error. Companies cannot keep watch of personal and private social media accounts. However, as Lopa Ghosh, an associate partner at global professional services provider EY told BBC News, corporations should educate employees about creating strong passwords to keep hackers out.

Ghosh also said companies can offer guidelines to employees about appropriate and inappropriate posts, including in times of a company crisis.

  • Unused social media accounts. Company accounts t not currently in use may be the subject to hacking, according to Hootsuite, a social media management company. Monitoring these accounts can help prevent hackers from gaining access.
  • Third-party apps. Companies that use third-party apps to share content on social media may be at greater risk for hackers, Hootsuite noted.
  • Phishing attacks and scams. Attacks and scams from hackers can be shared to social media, attempting to deceive employees into unknowingly sharing private details such as banking information, passwords, or business information.

Additionally, fraudulent social media accounts that pose as businesses can deceive customers into sharing confidential details, which Hootsuite said can tarnish a corporation’s reputation. Company employees may also fall victim to fake social media accounts by exposing company login and password information.

“Creative crooks often exploit big companies’ names to run social media scams,” Ilia Kolochenko of Geneva-based internet security company Immuniweb told BBC News.

Safety Experts Working with IT Developers on Social Media Safety

Companies can manage social media risks through proper governance, Phil Mennie, PwC Middle East’s social media and risk and governance leader, told Forbes. Mennie said governance includes how companies operate social media, how they establish and maintain policies and procedures, and how well they understand the strategies to manage risks.

Additionally, companies should make sure to have “the right tools in place to manage [their] social media efforts,” Keith Quesenberry, assistant professor at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA, wrote in Harvard Business Review.

Corporate security experts can work with IT professionals on social media safety plans through:

  • Proper management. The first step to successful governance is mapping out who is in charge of social media at a company, according to Forbes.
  • Social media touches many different company departments, so gathering experts from marketing, customer service, IT, human resources, and other departments can “ensure that the social media strategy fits in with the overall business strategy,” according to Forbes.
  • Monitoring social media accounts. Risks from social media can happen in real time, according to Security Magazine. Using a social media management software or platform can help businesses keep an eye on what consumers are saying about the brand and handle negative comments and problems as necessary.
  • Employee training. Employees should be trained on the tools and technologies a company uses to mitigate social media risks, according to The Conference Board.

“Social media governance is all about how to do social media well,” Mennie told Forbes. “It’s not just about strategy. It’s putting in the right operating processes to ensure that social is used the right way.”

Eastern Kentucky University’s Master of Science in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

Eastern Kentucky University’s online safety, security and emergency management degree program exposes students to the essential components of safety, security and emergency management. The program allows students to customize their experience through a Multidisciplinary Track or concentrations in Corporate Security Operations, Occupational Safety, or Emergency Management and Disaster Resilience.

The concentrations are also available as stand-alone graduate certificates, independent of a master’s degree. EKU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. For more information, contact Eastern Kentucky University now.

Recommended Reading

Production Versus Safety in the Workplace

Occupational Safety vs. Process Safety

Intelligence Gathering for Corporate Security


Digital in 2020 Report: We Are Social

The State of Digital and Social Media Risk Management: The Conference Board

How social media could ruin your business: BBC News

8 Social Media Security Tips To Mitigate Risks: Hootsuite

Why Corporate Security Needs To Monitor Social Media: Sysomos, now Meltwater Social

23 Benefits of Social Media for Business: Hootsuite

Manage Social Media Risk: PWC

The Basic Social Media Mistakes Companies Still Make: Harvard Business Review

Protect Your Firm From The 12 Risks of Social Media: Forbes