Another social media governance story, another indication that companies still haven’t developed the necessary compliance and risk policies and procedures needed to support their growing social media marketing presence.

More Social Media, Less Strategy

A survey co-authored by Grant Thornton and the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) found that more than half (53%) of the senior financial executives who responded see the corporate use of social media increasing significantly over the next 12 months, and almost half (48%) feel that social media will be an important component of their future corporate marketing efforts. Yet, more than three-quarters (76%) of respondent companies said that they did not have a clearly defined social media policy, and more than half (61%) do not have an incident management plan to help them deal with instances of fraud or privacy breaches.

While companies have been establishing a strong social media presence, most aren’t planning for the future and the inevitable change expected within the social media space. The survey showed that many companies are just starting to take a serious look at the benefits of social media in business, and they are looking even more closely at the risks involved, such as fraud, theft, defamation and invasion of privacy.

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87% expect corporate use of social media to slightly or significantly increase next year

Prioritizing, Funding Risks

Yet companies seem to be just as concerned with negative comments as they are about losing sensitive information. Respondents were asked to prioritize five potential risks associated with using social media, including:

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Potential social media risk priorities, with 1 as the most important and 5 the least important

Does risk translate into action? The survey shows that, while most executives have acknowledged the risks associated with data security and social media, many have yet to actually earmark funds for security protections related to social media. However, recent studies, including the FERF report CFO Quarterly Outlook Report: August 2011, noted that 61% of U.S. CFOs allocated more funds to data security, or at least are considering doing so.

What does this mean exactly? It means that companies have a lot to do to catch up with social media and governance policies. It's no longer enough to have a presence. Companies wanting to catch up need to be strategic so they can make the most of their presence while protecting their data, reputations and integrity.