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Australian businesses 'œanti-social' media

Australian small, medium and large businesses are slow to implement social media policies, and are fearful of social media, two different studies claim.

A study conducted by research firm, Ponemon Institute, and commissioned by security services provider Websense, surveyed 300 Australian IT businesses. Only 33 percent of the respondents claimed to have appropriate security measures in place for social media usage.

With 56 percent of respondents believing employees' use of social media represented a 'serious' threat, Websense ANZ managing director, Adam Brandley, said IT practitioners faced the challenge of ensuring that social media did not disrupt productivity and security.

These findings echoed those of another study, released earlier this year by security vendor Clearswift, which claimed Australian employers had regressed on social media practice and were keen to discourage employees from using them.

To get the most out of social media in terms of advertising and targeting a specific audience, Brandley said Australian companies should conduct a risk assessment analysis, educate employees about how their online presence could damage the company, and create a comprehensive policy for all employees. 'We believe that these steps can be a starting point to reducing the risk without hindering the opportunities social media offers,' he said.

Potentially lucrative opportunities opened up by social media are indeed something that Australian businesses are not looking at yet, according to another research study released in May by Telstra subsidiary Sensis in conjunction with the Australian Media Interactive Industry Association.

The study claimed that only 14 percent of small businesses, 25 percent of medium-sized businesses and 50 percent of large ones had a social media presence; rates which do not reflect the habits of 60 percent of Australian consumers, who, according to the study, spend an average of five hours a week on Facebook.

AIMIA chief executive officer, John Butterworth, said Australia businesses should embrace social media as consumers were ahead of them. "In only a few short years, the rise of social media has created a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour,' he said. 'Australian businesses of all sizes need to be open to the opportunities and challenges of engaging with customers in this new environment."

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