Social Media IS Risky!

Most organizations have two kinds of people when it comes to social media: the believers who are enthusiastic about the potential for social media to help solve business problems and the detractors who see the risks associated with social media and would rather steer clear.

Both groups are right.

The enthusiasts see the potential for social media to benefit the business in a variety of areas from product innovation and customer service to branding and advertising amplification.

The detractors, on the other hand, have legitimate concerns. An August 2012 study from the Altimeter Group found that 35% of respondents cited reputation or brand damage as a critical risk. Other concerns included release of confidential information, compliance issues, identity theft and others.

The Concerns are Justified…

Social media brings an unprecedented level of transparency, and brands don’t have a lot of control when it comes to what employees share. The platforms haven’t done a lot to alleviate fears with password leaks and questionable privacy practices.

The playing field has leveled and lines have blurred. Information moves quickly and can easily get out of control and cause issues for a brand.

The concerns are legit.

…But Overblown and Can Be Overcome

People don’t start discussing a company once it sets out with a social media program. They started discussing it long before that, but the brand at that time had no opportunity to make its voice heard, join the conversation, correct misinformation, embrace advocates and convert detractors. The bottom line is it’s just as risky (or even less risky) to have a brand presence in the social space than it is not to.

But that’s not exactly comforting news to those concerned with the risks of social media.

It’s important for pro- and anti-social media organization members to come together. Risk will never be nullified, but the two sides can come together to mitigate risk by:

  • Establishing a solid social media org chart and work flow with roles and responsibilities clearly articulated and aligned upon
  • Making social media part of your crisis and response plan protocol, so you aren’t forced to make it up when a crisis occurs
  • Establishing a corporate social media policy to protect the business and employees
  • Monitoring online conversations for potential threats
  • Working closely with customer service to quickly work with online detractors to offer support before a problem grows worse

Both voices are important. But it’s important for those voices to come together and find solutions.