The Real Cost Of Social Media Disasters

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Social media costs businesses up to $4 million a year:

After an earlier report about the UK Ministry of defence creating a series of videos aimed to educating forces staff on the dangers of updating to Facebook and Tweeting information that could be intercepted by “the enemy” and general nasty folk.

Symantec have produced a report focusing on the corporate sectors potential exposure to negative social media coordinated by their own staff and how to mitigate the consequences.

Symantec are World famous for supplying security, storage and systems management solutions have recently released their social media protection poll for 2011.

The real cost of social media disasters:


The survey is the cumulative result of research that was conducted during April 2011 by Applied Research.

They surveyed IT and C-level professionals responsible for networks, computers, and technology resources at small, medium, and large enterprises.

These were defined as being the following:

(small – 1,000-2,400, medium – 2,500-4,999, and large 5,000+ employees).

Survey Scope:

With 1,225 respondents in 33 countries in North America, Asia Pacific, Latin America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA)

The survey was done to assess how companies were currently protecting their assets and themselves from potentially negative consequences of information sharing via social media outlets.

9 Social media “incidents” a year:

The poll has highlighted that one bad tweet can cost a company up to $4 million in lost revenue as a result of a bad tweet that has leaked sensitive information.

As usual when it is information you wished no one knew about you can guarantee it is just what people want to share!

And with nine “social media incidents” a year on average at the organisations surveyed, the result of these incidents meant that 94% of those surveyed suffered considerable loss at the hands of loose tweets and facebook updates related to sensitive information. The findings make for interesting reading for any business who is looking to ensure that social media is not used negatively when shining a light on their own organisation for marketing gains.

Top 3 social media incidents:

The survey found that the top three social-media incidents included:


  • The loss or exposure of confidential information (41 percent).
  • Employees sharing too much information in public forums (46 percent).
  • Increased exposure to litigation (37 percent).


And the impact of social media incidents included:

Over 90% of the survey respondents who had social media incidents suffered negative effects as a result, these included:


  • Reduced stock price (average cost: $1,038,401 USD).
  • Litigation costs (average cost: $650,361 USD).
  • Direct financial costs (average cost: $641,993 USD.
  • Damaged brand reputation/loss of customer trust (average cost: $638,496 USD).
  • Lost revenue (average cost: $619,360 USD).


Greg Muscarella, senior director of product management for Symantec’s Information Management Group reported is quoted saying:

“Employee education and training on the proper use of social media for business purposes is just as important as having the technology pieces in place,”

I would argue with that and say that businesses should look at specialist social media agencies to organise what gets out in the blogosphere and how to aggregate and syndicate all that content in a wise and effective manner.

Obviously Symantec are in the business of selling their services and solutions so they actually suggest businesses should look at investing in the following areas of data management and law:


  • Employee training
  • Legal policies
  • Archiving solutions
  • Data loss prevention


Anthony Munns