Social media and audit: managing the risks

March 30, 2022

Social media is an essential tool for many businesses’ marketing strategies, helping them to reach a global audience, engage with customers, and build their brand online.

But it does come with risks, many of which business owners might not give much thought to until they become a problem.

Even if you’re not a frequent user of social media, your employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders might well be. And that means the information being posted online could affect public opinion of your business or cause data security issues.

There’s no avoiding the risks of social media, but a good auditor can help you to understand, monitor and manage them.

The risks of social media

There are several qualities of social media audit risks that pose unique threats to businesses.

It’s ingrained in our culture, for one thing – for frequent users of social media, sharing content with their networks and beyond is quick and easy. Someone might not think twice about posting a photo from a work meeting, for example, which might inadvertently reveal sensitive details by showing the people attending or even their notes and paperwork.

Information travels quickly on social media and has the potential to reach mass audiences, so a controversial or ill-judged post could go viral and cause serious reputational damage.

But it’s also very information-heavy, with a constant stream of content that makes details easy to miss when you’re monitoring activity only by reading through posts manually.

All this poses the risk of brand or reputational damage, whether that’s because of inappropriate or misjudged posts shared on company or employee accounts, or through a public customer backlash.

There’s also the potential for data leaks to compromise your business’s position and expose its intellectual property, or even result in non-compliance with regulations such as GDPR.

Monitoring and managing social media risks

The extent to which social media is included in an audit, and the time and attention spent on it, might vary depending on the level of risk it poses to your business.

If social media forms a significant risk for your business, an auditor should look at your processes, strategy, governance and more, and provide practical advice on how you can best protect yourself against any issues.

Some methods of dealing with social media risks might include:

  • Social listening and analysis to find out what people are saying about your business and businesses in your supply chain.
  • Social media policies that set out who is responsible for the social media strategy, who ultimately has sign-off on content shared from company accounts, your approach to customer queries or complaints and your stance on employees’ personal social media activity.
  • Broader IT and security policies, including who holds the account details and logins, and guidance given to employees about best practices for information sharing and avoiding viruses or malware.
  • Monitoring of social media activities to check for any accounts falsely posing as your business, or false reviews.

Talk to us about auditing for social media risks.