Last year, international IT services company Atos Origin announced plans to abolish email in favour of real life conversations and real time messaging platforms such as Facebook.

Atos claims 90 per cent of emails are a waste of time, distracting employees from more important tasks and hindering concentration. In contrast, Econsultancy’s Email Marketing Census 2012 revealed a growing belief that email and social media are complementary channels.

Change for the better

Straying from traditional methods of communication would undoubtedly cause a stir amongst any workforce as human nature leads us to resist or doubt change before we embrace the unfamiliar. However, as the search for simpler, more engaging and more effective ways of communicating continues, it’s difficult to deny the popularity of social media channels and the opportunities they present.

According to comScore, 16.6 per cent of internet minutes were spent on social platforms at the end of 2011; this suggests nearly a fifth of your potential customers are online and on social media.

Managing the risk

The challenge organisations face is to address the perceived conflict between social media and adequately protecting company information. In addition to this, someone must manage the risk now that businesses and industries are recognising the benefits of collaborating and sharing information; and this is where communicating with employees is fundamental to the successful adoption of a new approach.

If you can’t beat them, join them

The majority of the risks to confidential or sensitive data lurk online in the form of hackers, fraudsters, malware and phishing scams. Perhaps then, this is also the best place to raise awareness of how to protect individuals and information. Security functions have long endured a reputation for preventing progress in order to minimise risk, but social media offers the chance to alter this common belief.

As Generation Y continues to filter into the workplace, employers must anticipate greater demand for their staff not only to have access to the latest online tools and devices but to use them to do business. If your Information Security Officer (ISO) is already connected, chances are your employees will be more responsive to what they have to say.

Share and share alike

How many employees does it take to protect an organisation’s information? The answer is all of them; keeping data secure requires everyone’s involvement. Research released by Cloudmark suggests over half (51.7 per cent) of 18-24 year olds and 41.1 per cent of 25-34 year olds name social networks as the communications platform they access most regularly, so what better way to collaborate on this subject than using one of the most addictive online tools.

Social media has strongly influenced the way in which people prefer to consume information: best practice is to keep your message short and encourage your network to share content amongst themselves. Start the discussion about security using these channels and encourage a dialogue between the ISO and the rest of the organisation.

With little more than 140 characters, your security function could benefit from greater visibility and a measurable solution for security awareness and behaviour. What’s not to ‘Like’?