Social And Digital Media For Business – The Three Key Risks

According to a survey by Social Media Examiner, 92% of businesses surveyed (up from 86% in 2013) take social media seriously and believe that it is critical for their success. But where there’s opportunity, there’s also risk. This blog will shed some light on very real social and digital media risks and how to combat them.

Risk #1: Copyright infringement

The basic foundation of social media in business are posts. Traffic to your social media and website, higher ranking on Google search engines, and being visible to your customers all effectively depend on regular updates.

In Australia, the Commonwealth Copyright Act of 1968 defines copyright as rights in certain creative works such as text, artistic works, music, computer programs, sound recordings and films. The rights are granted exclusively to the copyright owner to reproduce the material, and for some material, the right to perform or show the work to the public.”

While copyright laws in Australia do not cover ideas and style, they do so when they are converted into written or visual format – script, text, video, images etc.

Research shows that “80% of tweets, Facebook updates, LinkedIn posts, etc. are relevant to your industry and target customers and only 20% is about self-promotion.” This means that you are going to be using photos, videos, and other digital files from the internet or sources other than your own website, when you retweet or share updates. Herein lies the danger of copyright infringement.

Risk #2: Exposing strategy tactics to competitors

Monitoring the social media pages of your competitor gives you valuable insight into their business strategies and obviously this works both ways. In his blog, Analysing your competitors through social media monitoring, Joel Windels brings this truth into broad daylight. Here are some takeaways:

  • Monitoring negative feedback on your social media sites gives competitors more than a sneak peek into the weaknesses of the business. Your competitors could target that weakness and capitalise on it.
  • You also face the danger that your well thought out and carefully planned social media marketing strategies are open to all eyes. Every move you make could be monitored and/or copied by your competition.
  • Social media monitoring tools allow you to monitor any conversation online that happens around your brand and that of the competition. By keeping a close watch on the topics and trends that you discuss on online forums and comments sections, your competition can monitor your product ideas and trends.

According to the article Marketing Competitive Analysis using Google and Rival IQ, it takes only 15-20 minutes to create a comprehensive report on your competition and use that information to enhance your business pitch accordingly.

Risk #3: Data security threats

Data Security threat is a real issue for businesses. According to the Global Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2013, the spread of false information through social media is an emerging risk, while Cisco’s 2013 Annual Security Report, “the highest concentration of security risks is on mass audience sites, including social media”. The report also mentions that Generation Y employees are less concerned about privacy, and “share data unreservedly”.

Employees too can be a source of data leaks. An inadvertent message of congratulations or an overexcited post about the new product could pose a serious threat to information security.

Mitigate the Risks

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Educate your employees on these very real risks of social media.
  • Formulate a social media policy in consultation with your legal advisor and make sure employees are aware of the ramifications of copyright infringements and other legal issues.
  • Know and implement privacy settings on your social media platforms.
  • Antivirus Software: make no compromise where this is concerned. Go all out – security patches, real-time dynamic web defense, a strong firewall – and get everything to protect your information.
  • Train your employees to scan and decode any links that you get through social media to make sure they’re the real thing.

Social media is as much a minefield as it is a goldmine, so it pays to be smart in your approach.


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