Large Number of Social Media Accounts Should Be a Corporate Focus, Panelist Says

By Joyce E. Cutler

Nov. 7 — The large number of social media accounts held by companies and the even vaster wealth of content communicated should be a data security priority for corporations, Devin Redmond, vice president and general manager for Nexgate, a social media security and compliance company, said during a Nov. 6 webinar.

“The fact that most organizations and most enterprises have over 300 accounts that they're running as their brands,” with hundreds of thousands of pieces of content communicated, “should be something folks are paying attention to” as part of their communication mix, Redmond said.

“Social media has become part of your communication infrastructure,” much like e-mail, Redmond said at a webinar sponsored by Proofpoint Inc., which acquired Nexgate in October. From a security and compliance perspective, companies should figure out how many accounts a company has on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media; shut down fraudulent accounts; have controls over the accounts; keep legitimate ones from being hacked; and make sure all those communications are compliant with corporate governance guidelines, Redmond said.

Nick Hayes, who specializes in governance, risk management and compliance research for Forrester Research Inc., said during the webinar that one way to gain corporate support is in the wake of a crisis, when the attention of upper management is focused on the problem. He cited an example of a Twitter account being hacked or when regulatory enforcement letters arrive. Hayes said such situations can create an opportunity for education.

One method to educate, Hayes said, is to focus on existing cases and to use “FUD,” or fear, uncertainty and doubt. “But we find that only goes so far,” he said. “You can highlight these potential risks but it's only going to help once or twice.”

Remembering Benefits of Social Media

While focusing on risk issues, security threats, regulation, legislation and litigation, Hayes said, “we forget that the whole purpose of this is, are there real business benefits to how” companies are using social media today and what is the return on investment.

Social media is helping organizations enhance their brand reputation, Hayes said. Stanford University Graduate School of Business and University of Michigan researchers in a study published in January found tweeting helped the visibility and market liquidity of companies that get less attention from traditional media outlets, he said.

Social media, Hayes added, helps organizations deepen their customer relationships and engage with customers at the right time.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joyce Cutler in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael O. Loatman at