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McKinsey-Risks-Use-of-Social-Tech-Mar2013The use of social technologies – whether social networking, video sharing, RSS, or some other form – might improve marketing effectiveness, but there are risks that need to be weighed alongside the benefits, according to [pdf] a report from McKinsey. Most executives from around the world recognize these concerns, which range from increased risk of confidential information being leaked (55%), to employees posting content on external social sites that reflects negatively on the company (30%). In fact, only 6% of respondents said that leaders do not associate any risks with the use of social technologies.

An August 2012 study from the Altimeter Group – which surveyed individuals for whom social media risk management is their primary or a significant part of their responsibility – found 35% of respondents identifying reputation or damage to the brand as a critical risk of social media use. A majority also cited release of confidential information as at least a moderate risk.

While these are real risks, 60% of the executives surveyed by McKinsey agreed that the benefits of social technology use far outweigh the threats. For example, while 40% recognized that employees could be distracted from core tasks by using social technologies, respondents believe that on average, employees could save 30% of time reading and answering messages were they instead to use accessible, searchable social tools rather than 1-to-1 communication tools like email.

Overall, respondents believe that the social tools they are using account for about one-fifth of the revenue increases and cost improvements their companies have experienced as a result of the adoption of all digital technologies. Respondents using more social tools (at least half of those identified) say they contribute an even greater share of revenue and efficiency gains.

About the Data: McKinsey’s online survey was in the field from June 12 to June 22, 2012, and received responses from 3,542 executives representing the full range of regions, industries, company sizes, tenures, and functional specialties. To adjust for differences in response rates, the data are weighted by the contribution of each respondent’s nation to global GDP.

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