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Alarming report: Brands leaving themselves exposed through social media mismanagement

A recent report by Altimeter has revealed that globally most companies have adopted social media without adequate ongoing management, leaving them open to alarming exposure and potentially uncontrollable risk.

The report, released 5 January 2012, highlighted that in the global proliferation of social media adoption, enterprise companies (1000 employees or more) had an average of 178 social media assets, with varying degrees of management. Such large numbers of assets present considerable coordination issues, but of more concern was the revelation that only 25% of companies offered training to their employees. The result – uninformed representatives engaging with customers on behalf of brands.

Another key failing highlighted was the lack of a business strategy – while 70% of global brand managers stated that their social media efforts met their business objectives, only 43% had a strategy in place detailing how.

“This report validates our concern that there is a considerable lag in the perception of social media as a serious media channel”, said Lucio Ribeiro, Managing Director of social media agency, The Online Circle.

“We consistently see companies, big and small, leaving themselves open to risk. Social media is not a playground. You can also waste a serious amount of money aimlessly ‘playing’ with social media!

The industry has ample intelligence and experience. Combine this with powerful insights into online behaviour, and sophisticated management tools and metrics, and we’re getting very savvy. It’s almost reckless not to be taking this environment seriously.”


Brand management crisis social media

Social media crisis costs to business

Symantec estimated (July 2011) that the global average loss from social media gaffes for business is $4.3million (USD). Their survey of enterprise companies found that the top three social media problems that led to crisis were:

  • too much information shared by employees in public forums (46%)
  • the exposure of confidential information (41%)
  • an increase in exposure to litigation (37%).

Over 90 % of survey respondents who experienced a social media crisis also incurred costly consequences including:

  • reduced stock price (average cost: $1,038,401 USD)
  • litigation costs (average: $650,361)
  • direct financial losses (average: $641,993)
  • damaged brand reputation/loss of customer trust (average: $638,496)
  • lost revenue (average: $619,360 USD)

In an early report, Altimeter indicated that social media crisis has been on the rise since 2001, yet 76% of these could have been averted with ‘proper’ social media investment (August 2011)

“We’re used to being approached to help recover businesses from crisis as a result of them not managing their social media effectively,” added Ribeiro.

“While individual details are protected, I can say that our work alone has addressed many online brand protection issues that have cost businesses many tens of millions of dollars. We’d rather such otherwise well managed brands adopt the cheaper, more effective and less damaging strategy of being on the front foot – to be on top of their online presence through good management early on.”

The social media experiment is well and truly over

Confirming that the ‘experimental’ period with social media is over, apparent laggard Proctor & Gamble finally conceding last month that Facebook and Google can be more “more efficient” than traditional media (January 2012) with the layoff of 1,600 staff. This social media trend is not about to slow down.

“Given our extensive experience in mitigating crisis through responsible social media management, we feel a sense of urgency in better informing brand managers,” said Ribeiro. “We’ve just released the latest training Social Sessions: Responsible Social Media, to advise brand managers of industry best practice: what we deal with on a daily basis. At a minimum, we’d like to see managers focussing on these five key areas…”

Top 5 things brand managers should be managing in social media now:

  1. A social media strategy based on business objectives aligned with appropriate metrics and goals
  2. An annual social media audit plan including, as a subset, regular Security, Design and Function testing (SDF)
  3. Staff social media Policy and Guideline documents, along with moderation guidelines for daily moderation of assets (owned and earned)
  4. Staff training and certification for regular asset managers (owned, earned and pirated)
  5. A crisis management plan including risk assessment, escalation procedures and contact detail








Lucio Ribeiro is Online Circle Digital’s lead strategist. You can find him at @lucio_ribeiro, or

6 Responses to “Alarming report: Brands leaving themselves exposed through social media mismanagement”

  1. I would like to site some of these statistics in a research paper im writing, can you direct me to where you found this information?

    Posted by Andrew Longman | March 14, 2012, 4:55 am
  2. Hi Mr. Lucio. I found the article informative but I did not really understand point #4. I am a ‘social media asset manager’ of sorts; when you mean by pirated, is this from getting one from another company? Or something else?

    Posted by jsncruz | September 5, 2012, 10:23 am


  1. […] 1. The average midsize or large company (1000 employees or more) has 178 “social media assets” (Twitter handles, employee blogs, etc.) – yet only 25% of companies offer social business training to their employees. (Source) […]

  2. […] 1. The average midsize or large company (1000 employees or more) has 178 “social media assets” (Twitter handles, employee blogs, etc.)–yet only 25% of companies offer social business training to their employees. (Marketingeasy) […]

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