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Social Media: Friend or Foe?

As a small business owner/employee, we know that we must have a technology presence to survive (and thrive). Whether that presence is through a website, blog, the dozens of social media platforms available, email marketing, or the infinite other digital methods to grow a business through technology. Technology is expected to continue to advance at an incredibly rapid rate. Consider that there were approximately 17 billion connected devices (phones, iPads, wearables etc..) in 2017 and that grew to an immense 50 billion last year. All of these devices and technology put data into the data eco system, data that can be extremely helpful, or significantly damaging to a small business.

Research conducted (by Nielsen and others) indicates that the average adult spends 11 hours per day engulfed in technology; which includes phone and television use, and also music and podcasts. This means that our customers are all living and constantly browsing the virtual world, a world we need to be in!

Social media and digital marketing strategies can yield incredible results to a small business. Consider that most small businesses do not have huge marketing budgets like the larger companies do. This implies that a small business must use every penny wisely, and digital approaches can yield the most beneficial ROI when compared to other traditional marketing methods. We all are aware that there are incredible benefits to the traditional face to face marketing approaches, however, these can be very time consuming and costly, thus digital approaches should be included as part of a well-rounded marketing plan. Consider all of the data that is being sent out each and every day from a company-from social media, websites, emails, invoices, bank statements etc..and the incredible volume of information that is being put into the data eco-system. I recently attended an academic conference at Gallup in Washington, D.C. this past year and one of the key takeaways from their cutting edge research was that there is going to be more data put into circulation in the next few years than in all of human history.

So, we have established that data is a friend! But, having a friend is not without risk. All of this data that we are sending “out” all creates threats. Each and every single piece of data that is being sent is a potential vulnerability for fraud and scams.

Consider these disturbing stats:

· 72% of small businesses are targeted for fraud.

· In 2020, there was a 424% increase in cybercrime targeting small businesses.

· 60% of companies that are a victim, will go bankrupt in 1 years.

· Small businesses lose an average of 5-10% of their revenue to fraud.

· The average cost is $200,00 per occurrence.

When we look at these incredibly impactful statistics, we now start to see a bigger picture, that there is a delicate balance between data/information output and the security of that data. Data absolutely has risks, and the savvy small business owner/employee will make sure to be conscious of this data balance.

So how does a company try and mitigate their chances of becoming a victim? There are many tools available to assist with reducing one’s threat to fraud and scams. There are many external technology platforms such as software that can assist with identifying threats before they occur or shortly thereafter. Internal technology security such as iPhone and iPad settings and security settings can absolutely assist. However, one of the most beneficial and most overlooked is training and awareness. Taking the ostrich in the sand approach to fraud and scams simply will not work-they will find you! Businesses should make sure employees are educated on the current trends and tactics from fraudsters, whether it is phishing campaigns, vendor invoice fraud, payment fraud, internal fraud and many more topics. It is imperative to have a strong defense of prevention by going on the offensive and educating employees on what to look for with fraud and scams. Creating this awareness will assist with developing that perfect balance between data output and safety, thus establishing that social media data is both a friend, and a foe!

-Be safe!

-Dr. Fraud


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