Corporate Eye

Facebook and Twitter Ranked Riskiest Social Media Sites for Brands

facebook schwagFacebook and Twitter rank as the riskiest social media sites for marketers, meaning these sites have the highest levels of risk associated with them in terms of their abilities to damage brand reputations. That statistic comes from an August 2012 study by Altimeter Group which surveyed professionals who list social media risk management as part of their job descriptions. The respondent audience included social media managers, lawyers, and compliance officers.

When asked which social networks present the greatest risk to companies worldwide, 35% of respondents stated that Facebook is a significant risk and 25% indicated that Twitter is a significant risk. Coming in at a distant third was YouTube, Vimeo and other video sharing sites which 15% of respondents indicated presented a significant risk.

The data gets even more interesting when you consider which social media sites are perceived as “not risky” for brands. The data from the study might surprise you:

  • 8% believe Twitter is not risky
  • 10% believe Facebook is not risky
  • 10% believe Third-party blogs and comments are not risky
  • 15% believe YouTube, Vimeo and video-sharing sites are not risky
  • 31% believe company blogs and blog comments are not risky
  • 33% believe Google+ is not risky
  • 35% believe Photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa are not risky
  • 45% believe LinkedIn is not risky
  • 45% believe ratings and review sites like Amazon, Epinions and Yelp are not risky
  • 45% believe Yahoo! Answers, Quora, and other Q&A sites are not risky
  • 48% believe Pinterest is not risky
  • 48% believe enterprise or internal social networks like Chatter and Yammer are not risky
  • 58% believe foursquare is not

These results are incredibly surprising for a few reasons. First, every social media site poses a risk to businesses, so the fact that even one of the sites included in this survey was deemed by even one respondent to be “not risky” is problematic. Second, nearly one out of two respondents indicated that they do not believe a wide variety of social media sites are risky, including LinkedIn, review sites like Yelp, foursquare, and more. Third, some of the respondents to this study didn’t think Twitter or Facebook are risky.

Those three things alone make me wonder what’s happening. The Altimeter survey was conducted with professionals who deal with social media risk as part of their jobs. However, they might not be the people who actually deal with social media on a daily basis and understand how the world of social media and branding really works. I think that’s where the disconnect is and that’s why the results to this study are so alarming.

The message to companies is loud and clear based on the results from this study. Make sure your company takes brand reputation and social media risk seriously and have a team of people in place who understands social media to manage potential and real threats that can negatively affect brand performance and ultimately, brand equity.

What do you think of the study results? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: Mari Smith

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.