Social media presents the relevant pitch for significantly magnifying the visibility and value proposition among existing and potential stakeholders of Small Businesses. It places small, local, and emerging businesses in the limelight in ways that up until this point, were largely unfeasible.

Technology used to co-create, know, like and trust is simply translated as Social media. This amalgamation of blogs, social search, social networking bookmarking is rapidly evolving as a serious marketing tool that has transformative business effects.

A Small Business Success Index study by the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business along with Network Solutions, reveals the extent to which small businesses are embracing social media. The adoption is a harbinger new business dynamics and is used for:

  • Proactively building networks
  • Identifying and attracting new customers
  • Monitoring customer feedback
  • Hosting blogs to demonstrate expertise
  • Tweeting about areas of expertise
  • Using social media as a customer service channel

As small businesses incorporate social media into their marketing fabric, the vulnerabilities multiply as there is no simultaneous awareness towards protecting information that drives their businesses.

Surveys and studies show that malware contrivers and hackers go wherever there is a dedicated audience. The rich and thriving real-time nature of the social media platforms attracts individuals, enterprises and hackers. Malware and hacking on social media sites raise the risks of social engineering i.e., getting users to run a program they ideally should not, participate in fake schemes or provide personal information. Ranging from annoying ads popping up on office PCs and laptops to destructive malware that can paralyze your entire small business IT, malware is a huge problem that takes a toll on both productivity and money.

There is always a risk of sensitive data leaking and being buzzed around by social media. For example, a disgruntled employee or ex-employee can bring the whole business down by leaking your small business private data to the public via his/her social media accounts, who will generously spread the words around the web. What’s worse, most likely, your competitors can now access your leaked sensitive data, too, easily – thanks to social media.

A few ways in which small businesses can be vigilant about security on social media while using it as a sustainable and useful tool are:

  • Well-acquaint themselves with the regulations or guidelines to be followed while using social media
  • Use difficult-to-guess passwords, ideally of 14 characters. Strong passwords are usually a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols
  • Since these sites are dependent on a large number of users the default settings for these sites should be periodically reviewed
  • Refrain from treating these sites as personal diaries
  • These sites should always be visited from a fully protected computer. Spammers, phishers and malware agents are always on the prowl on social networking sites.
  • Be cautious while clicking any link because malwares imbedded in it will automatically spread to the entire contact list

The precedence of social media over the traditional, more formal corporate communication infrastructure cannot be denied. With the innovative web app/thick app mash-ups (combining two or more apps together to create a new derivative) the social media phenomenon has opened a whole new world of opportunities. However, this also brings an interesting challenge in managing security which is bound to accelerate further.

An antivirus product like Quick Heal Total Security, which is one of the best virus protection software in India, brings all the security solutions into one computer-scanning engine for your convenience. Several features like AntiVirus, AntiSpyware, AntiMalware, AntiSpam, AntiPhishing, Parental Control, PCTuner, etc., give multi-layered protection to your PC along with added security for your mobile phones.

Software like these guarantee your peace of mind by protecting your PC against risks on the Internet, without taking away your freedom to use the Internet. However, there is no single effective way to eliminate the negatives. The best way is to educate your employees regarding the potential problems that social media sites can pose to your business. Remember that prevention is better than cure.