If you own a business, it's likely that you have company social media accounts, or that you've at least considered creating them. The use of sites like Facebook and Twitter is an invaluable and inexpensive way for small businesses to reach a broader customer base and compete with larger brands. However, too few business owners realize the potential security risks of sharing information on social media, a new study finds.
Newtek Business Services, a provider of services and financial products to small and medium-size businesses, recently announced the results of its latest monthly Market Sentiment Survey, which polled over 2,000 independent business owners. The July survey found that 57 percent of businesses have a Twitter or Facebook account, a 10 percent increase from this time last year. Of those businesses, a mere 30 percent are concerned about these services using their client data.
"While consumers are outraged at the concept of the federal government having access to personal phone and Internet data, businesses and consumers regularly share their most sensitive information — such as customer lists and other data — with Google, Facebook and Apple while using 'free' social media services," said Barry Sloane, chairman, president and CEO of Newtek Business Services.
Employees who have access to these profiles also pose a risk to companies' security. Social media mishaps can lead to security, public relations and human resources issues, and having a solid social media policy for your employees can help mitigate any potential risks, said social media strategist Steve Nicholls.
Despite business owners' overwhelming lack of concern about data security on social media, Newtek Business Services believes companies are underutilizing certain marketing tools. Learning more about how social media services work and how consumers utilize them can increase the benefits small businesses can reap from their use.
"Further education in the use of these tools should broaden their usage and educate independent business owners about its positives and negatives," Sloane said.