CIOs Have Reason to Worry About Social Media

The wisdom of a famous Boston politician—I don’t care what they say as long as they are talking about me—certainly does NOT apply to social media and today’s business organizations. To the contrary, according to a recent poll from data protection vendor Symantec,  the typical enterprise experiences nine social media incidents with 94% suffering negative consequences including damage to their reputations, loss of customer trust, data loss, and lost revenue. What gets said about your organization on social media indeed matters.

According to Gartner:  by the end of 2013, half of all companies will have been asked to produce material from social media websites for e-discovery.” That means enterprises need an information risk management governance strategy that specifically includes content created on social media.

The Symantec poll revealed that social media is pervasive within the enterprise, and CIOs have good reason to be concerned. At a minimum the organization faces increased litigation costs and risks. And the costs aren’t trivial; the poll found social media incidents cost the typical company $4 million over past 12 months.

The knee jerk reaction is to retreat from social media. That’s not a good idea. It would mean forgoing the considerable benefits to the organization’s brand and from customer engagement. In some cases, social media even drives the ringing of the cash register, especially when used as a major component in a multifaceted marketing campaign.

A better reaction is to develop a comprehensive strategy addressing policy and monitoring, governance and risk management, and archiving that includes social media content as well as email and conventional documents. This will entail a combination of effective management execution and investment in the deployment of new technologies.

The payoff, however, can be significant. Take just the top three social media incidents the typical enterprise experienced over the last year:

  1. Employees sharing too much information in public forums (46%),
  2. Loss or exposure of confidential information (41%),
  3. Increased exposure to litigation (37%)

More than 90% of respondents who experienced a social media incident also suffered negative financial consequences as a result. These included a drop in stock price (average loss: $1,038,401 USD), added litigation costs (average: $650,361 USD), direct financial costs (average: $641,993 USD), damaged brand reputation/loss of customer trust (average cost: $638,496 USD), and lost revenue (average: $619,360 USD).

How to avoid this: establish a social media policy, communicate it, and enforce it; then integrate it with your enterprise risk management and governance strategy; and finally, deploy policy-driven tools to automatically monitor social media activity and electronically archive social media content.

The key adult social media to watch today are Facebook and Twitter, but also LinkedIn and now Google Plus, which has the potential to change the social media landscape. In an upcoming post BottomlineIT will take up Google Plus and its possible ramifications for IT.

Please note that BottomlineIT will be on vacation for the next two weeks. New posts should resume the week of Aug. 15.

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