I love this opening paragraph written by Neil Roiter for CIO.com:
Businesses are still trying to figure out what to make of social networking. The knee-jerk impulse at some companies is to ban its use because it's insecure and seen as unproductive, while at others it's viewed as, in fact, the way a lot of people now get work done.
I love it because it is so spot-on. It doesn't matter who I'm talking to or what profession they are in, when the topic of social media comes up, nobody is sure if it is something for business or something for pleasure or how the two should be mixed. As a company, you want to get your name out there, but you want it done in a way that will present your company or organization in a positive light. But not every enterprise wants to dip into the social media pool, again because they want to protect their brand.
Of course, security is a major issue to consider. As Roiter wrote:
Some companies are responding by allowing social networks for specific business initiatives, such as marketing and sales. Even then, however, people who were raised with technology often find ways to break through work-imposed barriers, tunneling through Web proxies or getting to Facebook using Google. Not surprisingly, this puts security people in a tough place. They're under pressure from employees, business managers and, sometimes, upper management to find a way to bring social networking in securely. Even for security mangers who understand risk assessment in a world in which business is often powered by access to a global network, social networking is still risky business.
Each social-networking site has its particular security issues, but Twitter's security issues may have the biggest impact on businesses. As Joan Goodchild at CSOonline.com says, Twitter has three major security flaws. One is shortened URLs,while another is the ease in which you can follow others. Too often, following someone is a knee-jerk reaction -- hey, you followed me, so I'll follow you -- and that can result in being spammed and having an account hijacked. Finally, Goodchild said, is the lack of e-mail authentication -- you sign up for Twitter, but there is no registration follow-up. This means you can use any e-mail address for your account, and the ability to set up fake e-mail (or use someone else's email) is open season for spammers.
One way you can help your customers be assured that your account is legitimate is to provide plenty of information about you and your company.