Businesses are under increasing pressure to adopt social media as marketing and communications platforms, but in doing so they may be leaving themselves open to risks which aren't yet fully understood. In this short series of articles, we're going to take a look at some of those risks and some techniques which can be used to reduce risk

For many businesses, Facebook and Twitter have become "must-haves" for communication with customers with Instagram and a host of others coming up fast behind them. The perception is that this cheap one-to-many channel offers cost-effective ways of getting messages out quickly through networks of fans and followers.

Unfortunately it can backfire, as many companies have found, because a few disgruntled customers or mischief-makers can use the same channels to spread stories of bad service, bad products or worse about the company. Worse still, what happens if an unhappy (ex)employee gets hold of the company account and sets out to get revenge by posting profanities or fake stories ? The resulting damage to reputation can be costly.

It's difficult to prevent this sort of activity, but you can take steps to monitor it and react to it.

Monitoring efficiently

Monitoring doesn't, necessarily, involve having someone watching a screen 24 hours a day just waiting for the unwanted to happen.

Both Facebook and Twitter have options (albeit quite well hidden in amongst the various security options) to download archives of the data that they hold, and these are refreshed roughly every 24 hours. These archives include messages sent and received, Internet addresses used to access the account, copies of pictures and videos and all sorts of other interesting information.

We've successfully used data from these archives as evidence in criminal cases, but the information in them is easy to read, in a web browser, and a few minutes spent reviewing your corporate archive can help to identify unwanted issues so you can deal with them before they become a real problem. Preserving your own copies of the archives also creates a useful record of interactions with customers, and other interested parties, which can provide useful insights into their opinions and needs.

Of course, if you find something really unpleasant in there, you might need some extra help. Typically, a competent digital evidence examiner can deal with queries relating to social media in about an hour, so it won't cost much, but could save a lot.

If you need further help or advice on this, or any other related topic, please contact n-gate ltd. now.