Thursday, May 3, 2012

Who's Afraid Of Social Media? Everybody

Ok, maybe not EVERYBODY, but a new worldwide poll by tech security firm Avira shows that just 14 percent of users feel safe using social media.

This is interesting given that more than a billion people regularly use some sort of social media service to connect with friends and family; market themselves or their business; or stay connected with the world around them.

There certainly is something to be said for the inherent risk of doing anything online. Unscrupulous tech-savvy people are constantly finding new ways to thwart security measures and take advantage of less tech-savvy individuals, but this is not a situation unique to the internet. I am fairly certain Bernie Madoff didn't use Facebook to steal millions of dollars from his investors. He did most of that with a handshake.

So, how to convince yourself or your clients that social media is worth the risks? By reminding them of the rewards.

Social media is the most powerful form of communication ever developed. With no other communication tool can you reach so many different people in so many different places with just a few key strokes. It is easy to use, as safe as anything else you might use, and practically foolproof. (The biggest threat most people face is their own use of social media-saying the wrong thing.)

Everything we do in life comes down to risks and rewards. We take risks because we perceive rewards. If the rewards outweigh the risks, we proceed forward.

Social media news is everywhere, and certainly there have been a number of instances where social media was used as a weapon against an individual or a corporation. But in all those cases it was a matter of public action, not worms, security lapses or programs, which was used to commit fraud or launch the attack.

Belvedere Vodka shot itself in the foot with their "rapey" ad and McDonald's launched a #hashtag campaign which backfired and left them with egg McMuffin on their face. But neither of those social media missteps was caused by someone outside their company.

As a reporter every week I wrote a news story or saw a news story come across the AP wire about some unsuspecting person who fell for a Facebook scam, or email scam or some other type of scam. But nobody hacked their accounts and made them transfer money via Western Union. They did that all by themselves.

Social media security then comes down to one key ingredient: common sense. Unfortunately, it's just not as common as it once was.

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