Risk management and social media

Apparently, in 2007, 16% of companies saw confidential information divulged online, 1 in 10 saw financial information leaked and ¾ of companies disciplined employees for abuse of email. So how do you know if your employees aren't divulging company secrets online? Simple – you don’t.

The ‘Measuring Influence and Audience’ panel at the Social Media Influence conference in London last week analyzed how social media measurement is helping companies to understand their customers. But can a computer algorithm interpret the sentiment and trends of human conversation?

Employees using social networks on company time, the landscape of blogging and usage of newsgroups and forums were all debated. According to Alexander Burmaster of Nielsen Online most people between 16 and 24 would walk out of their jobs if their bosses imposed a ban on Facebook.

Obviously there are perils involved when social media meets big business. IT departments are often the most intolerant – going in there full pelt, piling on access restrictions when Facebook, Skype and P2P services swallow up corporate bandwidth. Others fear the timesink and “damage by association” with the company’s reputation. Considering the same thing can be said about email, one panelist noted, who’s to say that employees haven’t been slagging off operations on company time for a decade already? As such, this debate seems to be a little repetitive.

That’s not to say disagreement can’t be positive. Dell, for one, proved a great case study on how a company can successfully integrate social media into a marketing campaign and corporate philosophy. They focused their attention on bloggers who had slated their customer service online. They reached out to bloggers; they blogged; they found ways to listen to and follow the advice of their customers.

The “We Hate HSBC” campaign on Facebook, which formed in reaction to the bank charging interest on graduate overdrafts, was another incidence of online customer activism enforcing change. The group attracted the attention of the national press triggering a meeting with the National Union of Students.

It’s conversation that’s the buzz word these days and the corporate bigwigs are slowly beginning to acknowledge the threat and embrace it. What is there to be scared about anyway, one panelist observed. Sites like Facebook, they’re just content management systems that are free and fashionable after all… Or are they?


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