Social Networking Risks and Challenges for Small Business Owners

social networking risks and challengesEveryone knows the benefits of being active members in social networking sites. The huge opportunities brought forth by social media blasts for promotion is almost too good to be true for small business owners. The temptation of free publicity it seems is too much to not give in.

While there are various articles on how good social networking is, there are regrettably, some negative sides to it as well. I am in no way attempting to dissuade anyone from being active in social networking sites. However, it is imperative that every business owner who goes all out in tweeting, posting and sharing know the risks before jumping into the fray.

  • Security – As our reach to the whole world gets smaller because of the internet, so does the reach of unscrupulous individuals. Cybercriminals are constantly on the prowl and small business owners are not exempted from being victims. A simple malware can cause havoc in your company. One might argue that they would not of course give out sensitive information about their company but who is to say that a seemingly innocent post could trigger a technical attack? It is imperative therefore to ensure that there is a plan in place for protection against cybercriminals.
  • Brand Hijacking – A loose definition of this is brand fraud. This happens when your trademark brand is corrupted by individuals who use it to scam and rip off customers while the latter thinks that they are actually dealing with your company. Business owners should claim their brand or company names on social networking sites as a way to protect your company’s reputation. Brand hijacking may be done because of a simple jest, just to poke fun or get back at someone but it could be done for more sinister reasons such as extorting customers. The integrity of your brand should be protected and if it means being extra careful by monitoring social networking sites, it would be well worth the effort.
  • Lack of or no control over what employees share – Whether you hired a different person to organize your marketing efforts or just plainly having employees to share certain news about your company, you have no control over them. You may have your own PR person to do the task for you but to what end? There are some employees who are unaware that they are crossing the line between what is social and what is business. As a business owner, you are responsible for enforcing an acceptable use policy that you need your employees to sign and agree to.

Like I said, I am not deterring anyone from using social networking sites to market their businesses. Foreseeing the risks as well as the benefits of social networking is important so that business owners may arm themselves with the knowledge and necessary tools to protect their businesses.

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