Few top businesspeople in this country think social networks such as Twitter and Facebook place their firms' reputations at risk, new research suggests.
The public relations company that helped carry out the research says the results are a concern.
But a social media consultant says the study simply highlights the fact that many companies have moved on from being afraid of having their "brands trashed" by users of the technology.
A survey of 80 chairmen, chief executives and top managers undertaken by the Institute of Directors in New Zealand and communications agency SenateSHJ found only 7 per cent of respondents thought social networks put their companies at risk of reputational damage.
More than 40 per cent of respondents viewed such websites as an opportunity to develop a viewpoint, while a further 40 per cent said they were neutral about the risks or benefits of social media.
SenateSHJ chief executive Neil Green said the results of the survey were concerning.
"Too many respondents only see social media as a channel for positive outreach, thereby disregarding it as a channel that could create reputational risk and harm," Green said.
"Reputational storms are hitting harder and faster than ever before. Directors and CEOs need to understand that how their companies engage in social media will have a disproportionate impact on corporate reputation."
But social media consultant Michael Carney said the survey was reflective of the "more enlightened view" companies now had of websites like Facebook and Twitter.
"I think we've moved on from the days when we were paranoid about getting our brands trashed in social media," Carney said. "It's far more of an opportunity than it is a problem."