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Guarding the Social Gates: The Imperative for Social Media Risk Management

Alan Webber

Note: This post originally appeared in Alan's blog Ronin Research.

Everyone likes to point out how wonderful social media is - how they connected with lost friends from high school, they met new friends with similar interested, and all the cool things they learned. Marketers love it too because it gives them a great new channel to to connect and engage with customers in

But social media has a downside too - just ask Mat Honan, or Bank of America, or Nestle, or Kenneth Cole about social engineering, damage to a brand reputation, the release of confidential information, regulatory violations, and other risks. The risks are real, and the threats are now.

My colleague Jaimy Szymanski and I interviewed 33 professionals and vendors on the front end of social media risk management and surveyed 92 professionals who said social media risk management was either a significant part or the primary part of their job. The result is our report Guarding The Social Gates: The Imperative For Social Media Risk Management which looks at the newly emerging field of social media risk management.

What we found was that social media is the modern Pandora’s box – It has great value but almost two-thirds of companies we surveyed say that social media is a significant or critical risk to their brand reputation. The biggest risk? Brand reputation, followed on by the errant release of confidential information, the loss of IP, and regulatory and compliance issues.

And 60% of companies either never train their employees about their corporate social media policies or do so only upon hiring. Moreover, 43% of companies have less then one FTE dedicated to managing social media risk.

To safeguard brand reputation, protect information and intellectual property, and mitigate legal actions, organizations need to be more proactive about managing social media risk. We found that to set up an effective social media risk management process, organizations need to focus on the IAME loop:

1) Identifying social media risks;

2) Assessing and prioritizing those risks against limited resources;

3) Mitigate and manage those risks to reduce the impact on the organization; and

4) Evaluate emerging risk against mitigation efforts.

Social media risk is an emerging area and will continue to grow, and this report is only the beginning of what we will see in this area. Look for my future reports around social media policies and GRC in a social media world.

As with all of the research efforts at Altimeter Group, Guarding The Gates is published under the Open Research model. Use it, share it, and we will publish more.

Guarding the Social Gates: The Imperative for Social Media Risk Management from Altimeter Group Network on SlideShare

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