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UK organisations fail to address social networking risk

Warwick Ashford

Unguarded corporate social media accounts are leaving companies exposed to serious security breaches, a survey of more than 1,000 senior UK executives has revealed.

Most respondents (87%) said they use social media strategies to enhance their business, but 45% said they had experienced a security scare as a direct result in the past year, according to the survey by OnePoll on behalf of KPMG.

Security scares ranged from a complaint campaign that affected the company’s operations or reputation, to a leak of company sensitive information from an internal source.

“We are seeing a major discrepancy between what organisations are trying to achieve with their social media activity and what is actually being achieved,” said David Elms, partner and head of the media sector at KPMG.

“It appears that insufficient resources are being dedicated by the majority of companies to get their social media strategy right,” Elms said.

Employees and social networking

The survey found 43% of respondents agreed companies should have strict guidelines about the content that can be posted on social networks by employees in the organisation’s name. A further 27% believed employees should be allowed to use their own social network accounts to post content on behalf of the organisation.

However, 73% of respondents said they only offered employees up to four hours of training on social networking use a year.

“Companies want to do the right thing. Roughly one in two people we surveyed are concerned that employees be made aware of what constitutes ‘fair comment’ and that employees need to know how best to represent their brands on social media platforms,” said Elms.

Social networking activity falls to IT department

Yet in over a third of cases, responsibility for social networking still fell to the IT department.

“Even with the best will in the world, this department is not where responsibility for executing social media strategies should lie. A gulf is clearly being created between how an organisation’s social media strategy is being devised and how it is being executed on the ground and this needs to change,” Elms said.

The survey also showed companies fail to understand the future business benefits of having a proper social media strategy in place.

The business benefits of social networking

One in four respondents said they did not know how important social networking activity was for the long-term impact on their company’s reputation. The same number did not understand how concerned they should be about social network users creating campaigns against their business.

Similarly, over a third said they were uncertain whether social networking could boost future sales, despite nearly half believing the greatest value of social media derived from product and brand awareness.

The survey revealed confusion about the value of social networking for organisations and the impact a proper social media platform can have on a company.

This in turn, said Elms, is creating a very mixed approach towards social networking policy. This could result in security issues if employees were not well trained on how to use social media platforms on behalf of their organisation, he said.


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