Social Media is the subject of a great deal of hype, though less-explored are its downsides.

These include employee oversharing, the need to “Feed the Monster” – and an increased risk of malware and spam attacks (the new social disease?).

From the Good Morning Silicon Valley site:

More businesses may be incorporating social networking into their internal and external communications, but that doesn’t mean the cranky guys back in the systems room are happy about it. A new report and survey of 500 companies by security outfit Sophos found a 70 percent increase last year in the number of firms reporting spam or malware attacks via social networks. Almost three quarters of the companies surveyed believed their employees’ behavior on social networking sites endangered security, and 61 percent named Facebook as their biggest worry among the social sites.

Obviously, every media channel has its pluses and minuses, and they need to be weighed against the potential benefits.

Outside of concerns about malware, I speak candidly with my consulting clients about the dangers of employee oversharing. Social media fanatics are often quick to call for transparency and unfettered employee access, but frankly, some folks shouldn’t be allowed near a Twitter client or a blog.

More than a decade ago, I gave a vendor direct access to my client. It was a tough project (an ad/show campaign), and to my horror, that vendor immediately got into a nasty email flame war with my key client contact.

By the time I found out, the damage was already done, and though I made amends, I (understandably) lost the client.

Oddly, I’d worked with that vendor for years, and their actions never suggested a tendency towards corporate suicide (with their clients or mine).

The moral here is that you can’t simply hand each everyone access to direct media channels like social media. The above exchange took place via email – but imagine if the flame war had taken shape on a Facebook page or even a blog – for all to see?

Too many social media projects begin on a seemingly ad hoc basis – lacking a plan or even a clear idea of the goals, means, and yes – potential pitfalls.

Keep your eyes open about the pitfalls, and you’re a lot less likely to have a bad, bad day.

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.