Failure to embrace social media is akin to turning a blind eye to emerging reputational threats, says US-based IT solutions provider

Risk managers are urged to up communication with their in-house social media leads to gain tighter controls over emerging reputational threats.

Speaking after the Business Continuity Management World Conference in London last week, xMatters head of business continuity solutions (EMEA) Laura Meadows said that a failure to embrace social media is similar to turning a blind eye to emerging reputational threats.

She said: “There is very much a culture among risk managers who generally say, ‘I don’t like social media so I’m not going to use it.’

“Millions of people are using social media and they can search your brand worldwide with a simple hashtag. So choosing not to be part of [social media] is just ignoring the problem. What I find is that a lot of risk managers don’t tie up with the sales and communications team.”

Meadows, who was appointed head of business continuity solutions EMEA earlier this month, believes businesses should learn to incorporate a sensible social media presence which can bolster a company’s resilience.

She cited Queensland Police Service’s Facebook activity as an example of good practice, stating that it received some 4,000 ‘likes’ prior to the mass flooding in 2011, but in the aftermath of the event, the page’s ‘likes’ upped by a further 180,000 as a result of “consistent and sensitive communications” through Facebook.

Meadows commented: “Everyone is following its Facebook page and now it is pushing out general sales and marketing. This is a great example of how you can actually turn an incident into a positive through social media.”

xMatters vice-president EMEA Teon Rosandic added that organisations should treat reputation and social media as a risk that is planned for: “Reputation is a risk to your asset. A lot of the time your customers are your greatest asset and if there’s a risk implicated by social media then you need to prevent it and have a strategy on it.”