SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues. Last week’s poll question: Does your company have guidelines in place to prevent having its social media presence hacked?

  • No, and we’re not considering it: 42.74%
  • Yes: 30.77%
  • My company doesn’t use social media: 13.68%
  • No, but we’re working on it: 12.82%

An interesting way of answering the question “What is our social media presence worth?” is to turn it around and ask “What would it cost us to clean up the damage if someone outside the company gained access to the account?” What’s the value of the brand equity that your social media presence maintains? The sensitive data these efforts provides? The relationships that the company has built one post at a time?

The answer to that question — the true answer and not the one you like to tell yourself — can be found by looking at what you’re willing to put up with to protect what you’ve built. If you are one of the about 43% of SmartBrief on Social Media readers working at a company that doesn’t think it needs to worry about social media security, it may be because someone there isn’t convinced the company has built something worth defending yet.

I’d urge you not to undersell your efforts. Maybe you’re not going to be buying special security software anytime soon, but you can address the human element to social media security without too much fuss. Education is the single greatest tool you have for protecting your social media investment. Create a set of security best practices for your company and share them with employees who have social media access. If that’s too much work, you can share these tips with your co-workers instead. If you’re feeling really ambitious, maybe you can have a short training class to discuss security issues — you might discover you have more support for protecting your investment than you think.

Few people question the business value of fire extinguishers and basic fire codes. Your online assets need basic protection too. Don’t put all your hard work at risk for no reason.

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