Social Media Risks For Brands. How To Avoid Them?

by Farwa Anees
social media risks

Social media has become a strong method for businesses to engage with their customers and produce innovative new products and services in today’s connected society, which places a high value on information and efficiency.

In a society where social media is an integral part of communication, businesses would be fools not to capitalize on its potential.

A study found that more than half the world’s population (7.8 billion) uses social media. Users spend an average of 144 minutes every day on social media. However, what may be surprising is that 90% of individuals make purchases from brands they follow online.

While the advantages of social media are obvious, there are some social media risks to be aware of. When something goes wrong with social media, brands risk losing their reputations.

Brands might benefit from social media, but it can also be dangerous. Companies must be cautious about what they publish, and they must have a plan to address any issues that develop.

According to a survey conducted in 2017, 59% of businesses experienced a “material or substantial event” in the previous year.

So, if you’re utilizing social media for marketing, whether for personal or business reasons, you need to be aware of the social media risks. You can keep on top of your social media campaign and lower your stress levels by staying aware of the threats and establishing proper risk mitigation techniques. Also, maintain engagement with your audience and increase your sales.

Major Online Risks For Businesses Using Social Media 

Today’s businesses are increasingly reliant on social media to communicate with their customers. Whether it’s for customer service or advertising, your business will be utilizing some form of social media unless you’re in an industry that doesn’t require marketing or outreach.

But the risks of social media for businesses, especially small businesses.

Here are some potential social media risks you should understand before using social media.

1.  Social Media Security Risks

Industry experts spend millions of dollars annually to present a revised marketing plan. That would have been virtually unheard of just a few years ago. However, social media does not exist in a vacuum, and hackers and other bad actors exploit security flaws in social media platforms to target organizations and steal information.

Even if it isn’t a hacker, there are still various ways that social media might lead to security gaps owing to employee behavior or network constraints. Here are some major social media security risks that you may know:

  • Malware

malware risks


 Most computer viruses and Trojans are just different forms of malware — malicious software. These programs can be downloaded accidentally by clicking on infected links or visiting infected websites. In other cases, they’re bundled with legitimate software and downloaded intentionally (but unknowingly). A file from an untrusted source is always suspect.

  • Phishing

This is one of the oldest scams in the book. Phishing scams involve receiving emails that appear to come from a trusted source — a bank, for example — requesting sensitive information (like a password or Social Security number) or asking you to click on a link that installs malware on your device. Always be wary of unsolicited emails and never click on suspicious links.

  • Accounts

Your most valuable asset is your identity. That’s why hackers spend so much time trying to steal personal information. Once they have access to one account, it’s often possible to access other accounts by resetting passwords or using other personal information obtained in the initial breach.

  • Account Hijacking

Account hijacking is a common way social media users are scammed. Fraudsters use various techniques to take over or guess access to your account and lock you out.

For example, they may send you an email with a link to a fake login page that looks exactly like the real one. Once they get your information, they can change your password and lock you out of your account.

Account hijacking is becoming far more common on social media platforms than it used to be.

  • Impersonation Account

In this scam, criminals create a fake profile that looks like yours but is not linked to you. The goal here is to trick others into believing that the account belongs to you so that they will provide private or financial information to the fraudster. In general, impersonation accounts are easier to create than hacking existing accounts. Many people do not set up strong passwords for their social media profiles or use them for multiple sites and services.

2.  Legal Risks

The legal risks associated with social media vary greatly depending on the country you’re operating in, as well as the specific laws governing that country.

However, several common legal risks to consider before launching social media campaigns.

  • Copyright Infringement is when a brand uses an image or video that belongs to another user. The original creator can sue for damages.
  • Trademark Infringement: A trademark is a name, logo, or symbol identifying a brand. An example is the Nike swoosh logo. Using this trademark without permission can get you in trouble with the law.
  • Defamation: Social media makes it easy for brands to harm their competitors or customers by saying something untrue about them. Defamation includes libel and slander.
  • Invasion of Privacy: Sometimes, brands share private information without permission. For example, sharing a private message on Twitter or Facebook could be considered a red invasion of privacy.
  • Breach of Contract: Contracts are used to protect copyright and trademarks, both online and offline. If you break the terms of a contract, the person who wrote it could take you to court. 

3.  Digital Strategy Risks

The quality of a digital content marketing plan determines the success of any digital marketing strategy. If there is one thing companies should do, invest in data quality management.

There are many social media marketing risks:

  • Bad Data, Bad Decisions– Every business decision is based on the data available to you at that moment in time. If that data is inaccurate, then your decisions will also be inaccurate.
  • Bad Customer Experience– If you are using inaccurate or old data, you may contact people who have moved home or changed jobs. Not only is this irritating, but it can damage your CSAT score along with brand reputation and erode brand loyalty.
  • Lost Sales Opportunities– A salesperson will only follow up on a lead if they believe they have a genuine chance of making the sale. Poor data quality can drastically reduce the gains made from efforts to generate revenue.
  • False Assumptions – Data analysis and predictive modeling are only as good as the underlying data. Bad assumptions lead to bad models, which lead to bad insights and bad business decisions.
  • Poor Customer Engagement – If you don’t know who your customer is, their preferences, or how to contact them, it will be impossible to engage with them effectively across multiple channels and devices.

4.  Financial Risks and Costs

Brand safety and reputation management are crucial, but they’re not the only concerns that social marketers have. While exploring “Risks and Costs risks that brands can have” section, we discovered that these other factors are also top of mind.

Here are some of the concerns we typically discuss with marketing suppliers:

  • Time:Most social teams are still relatively small, so they can only manage so much at one time. They need to be strategic about where and how they spend their time. That means prioritizing the social channels that offer the most potential for their audience and focusing on goals that will deliver a high ROI.
  • Investment:Social budgets vary widely based on several factors, but most brands feel they could use more money to support their work. As a result, marketers feel pressure to make sure their investments are well planned and well-executed.
  • Brand fit:What does it mean for a brand to “fit” on social? It comes down to the brand voice and tone — how the brand communicates and engages with its audience online. If this isn’t right, it can lead to lower engagement rates or negative sentiment toward the brand.

5.  Operational Risks

Operational social media risks for brands can include, but are not limited to, the following:

●   The release of confidential or proprietary information.

It’s a scenario that plays out in courtrooms and boardrooms across the country every day: trade secrets and other confidential or proprietary information is released to the public, often with disastrous consequences. Whether it’s a disgruntled employee spilling company secrets or a hacker breaking into a secure server, the unauthorized release of sensitive information can be costly and damaging to businesses and individuals alike.

●   Non-business reasons may use company resources.

Many employees view their company’s resources as a personal piggy bank for non-business purposes. While using office supplies for personal projects or making a few long-distance calls on company time is usually not a problem, some employees go too far.

In extreme cases, employees have used company resources to run their businesses or even fund their gambling and alcohol addictions.

Using company resources for non-business purposes is not a major issue in most cases. However, when employees start abusing these privileges, it can lead to serious problems. For example, if an employee uses the company’s computers to run an illegal business operation out of the office, that could lead to legal trouble for the business.

●   The publication of inaccurate or misleading information.

In today’s society, the internet has become a main source of information. With this comes the publication of inaccurate or misleading information. This can be done unintentionally or intentionally, but the same people are given false information. This can have serious consequences, leading to people making bad decisions based on incorrect information. It can also cause division and conflict when people believe different things due to the different information they have been given.

6.  Brand Reputation Risks

One risk of social media use in companies is that it can get a bad reputation.

Having a poor brand reputation on social media can greatly impact your business. Not only does it discourage potential customers from purchasing products or services from you, but it can also put off investors, limit your ability to grow, and even lead to legal issues.

brand reputation risks


You must take steps to protect your online reputation. The following are the different risks of having a poor brand reputation on social media and how you can overcome them:

●        Damage to sales

The first risk of having a poor brand reputation is damaging your sales and revenue. Research shows that 93% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So if customers see negative reviews about your company, there is a good chance they will look elsewhere for an alternative product or service.

This is why it’s so important that you invest in reputation management and a good sales tools. By monitoring feedback on all platforms and responding appropriately, you will ensure that negative reviews don’t affect the success of your business.

●        Less investment

Another risk of having a poor brand reputation is less investment from third parties such as investors, suppliers, and credit companies. If these stakeholders see negative reviews about your company, there is a good chance that they may not want to work with you in the future.

7.  Competitor Risk

Choosing to rely primarily on traditional marketing practices and other forms of customer communications and collaboration may risk the loss of market share to competitors exploiting the insights social media generates. Smaller startups and certain high-tech companies have found social media to be indispensable to their evolution and are leveraging the technology to reach customers and markets despite having very few employees.

This could present a disruptive threat to larger, more established competitors if they ignore the implications of social media in focused market niches that can be exploited by new entrants and more nimble peers. Social technologies extend the disintermediating power of the internet to lower entry barriers and disrupt established business models.

8.  Innovation Risk

The opportunity to leverage social media for innovation is enormous, according to CIO Insight magazine. It is common for businesses today to attempt to manage innovation using traditional product development methodologies such as focus groups or customer surveys. But these approaches do not provide the deep insight that can be obtained through interactive dialogue with customers about the way they will actually use a company’s products and services in their everyday lives.

Social media offers access not only to individual customers but also to large groups of them who are participating in online communities around topics relevant to a business’s target market segments.

9.  Loss of IP and Sensitive Data

Board members and executives who have concerns about security-related risks arising from deploying social media in the business should understand how their organizations are addressing the risk of inappropriate release, leakage, or theft of information strategy to the company, and exposure of company networks and systems to viruses and malware due to human error, phishing scams, sophisticated attackers and identity thieves.

The goal is not to develop a false sense of security that social media use is risk-free (it isn’t) but rather to understand what controls are in place to mitigate these risks and what additional measures may be needed.

10.  Social Sharing Risks

Social media can be a boon for brands, providing a means to engage with customers and build a loyal following. However, if not managed carefully, social media activities can have a negative impact on brand reputation.

Here are five ways that social sharing can cause problems for your business:

  • Negative publicity. Social media is word of mouth on steroids. If you get something wrong or make one of your customers unhappy, the news will travel fast to a wide audience. Be prepared to handle any customer-service issues rapidly and openly. However, there are some approaches through which brands can handle negative social media reviews.
  • Compromised accounts. A hacker or disgruntled employee might take control of your social sharing accounts and post inappropriate or even damaging content. For this reason, it’s important to keep passwords secure and change them regularly.
  • Legal ramifications. Something that is legal in one country may be illegal in another. This can cause problems if your company has global operations.

10 Tips to Mitigate Social Risks

Your company and employees need a detailed social media policy to ensure social media security. Following, we’ve curated a list of 10 tips that help you get more secure:

1.  Acknowledge the risks

The first step in risk management is acknowledging that there are risks involved in using social media for your business. That means creating a plan for managing those risks — because if you don’t acknowledge them or make plans for how to deal with them, they’re much more likely to happen.

2.  Keep a close eye on your presence.

Make sure you keep an eye on what people are saying about your business on social media. You should also monitor the reputation of your brand. This will help you to know how people perceive your brand. If you notice that people have negative comments about your brand or product, you need to know that to act accordingly. To do this effectively, you need to regularly log into your social accounts and set up notifications so that you get instant updates from platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

3.  Be Careful Who Gets the Social Media Keys!

The keys to your social media channels are easily accessible to everyone in your business.

Just because you trust employees does not mean you completely control the inner workings of their personal lives.

Friends, family, and outside influences can significantly affect an employee’s behavior at work, and those issues often stem from things going on in their personal life.

With the rapid growth of social media, particularly Facebook, it has never been easier for these external factors to infiltrate the workplace. Take care who has access to social media keys!

4.  Be aware of third-party sites.

In addition to your own social media presence, your company may be mentioned on other sites or blogs. Use Google Alerts to stay informed of any mentions online so you can respond accordingly and quickly. If you find your company is mentioned in a negative light, reach out, try and correct the situation and find out if there is anything you can do to prevent it in the future.

5.  Do your research

It’s not just what others are saying about your company online — you need to know what they’re saying about your competitors. As well as keeping tabs on what others are saying about you, make sure you know what people are saying about competitors. You don’t want to end up posting something similar to a competitor.

6.  Set up Social Media Security Monitoring Tools

Facebook , Instagram and YouTube have become a great way to publicize your business, but they are also a way for imposters to impersonate your company.

Social media security monitoring and management tools work by searching Facebook, YouTube, and any other site you specify for instances of content using your brand name.

You are alerted each time a new reference is found to immediately evaluate its impact on your business.

7.  Unattended Social Media Accounts

If unattended social media accounts are left online, brands might lose trust and important information.

However, social media management systems allow you to maintain control over your company’s message and avoid the risk of unintentional social media usage while also empowering staff to act as brand ambassadors. So keep this in mind as well.

8.  Have a social media policy

It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to have set guidelines for your employees if they’re using social media for work purposes. Your policy should include what can be shared on social media, disclaimers required in posts, who has access to the company’s accounts, and the consequences of violating any of the above rules. If you don’t have a policy, you can use HubSpot’s free template as a starting point. You may also want to consider requesting that employees sign an agreement stating they’ve read and will follow the policy while employed.

9.  Limit access to increase Social Media Data Security

Social media data security starts with limiting access. Limiting the number of people accessing your social accounts and password policies can tighten up your social media data security.

10.  See Social Media Governance and Policy as Guidance, Not Just Control

Social media governance and policy isn’t just about compliance; it’s also about creating a set of guidelines for best practices and guardrails to create a consistency that can help people flourish.

Minimize social media risks for brands now!

Social networking has become ingrained in the operations of modern businesses. An active social media presence can be quite beneficial to your company. However, along with all of the advantages, social networking comes with risks. The dangers of social media go beyond negative headlines and customer response. The security dangers of social media can have far-reaching consequences for your company, including the compromising of corporate and personal accounts, which can result in revenue loss, reputation damage, and regulatory fines.

So, suppose your company has a social media presence, which is almost certainly does. In that case, you must devote resources to safeguarding your accounts and, more crucially, your brand from social media dangers.


Farwa Anees

Farwa is a Digital Marketer who likes to share her insights and experiences via writing. She likes to test and experience new eras in marketing and share them through blog writing.