The ubiquitousness of social media makes it a hot tool to handle. It can either bring in more followers to your brand when managed effectively or can run down your reputation in no time. Needless to say, in the recent years social media strategy has become a prime concern for organizations of all sizes, from startups to large enterprises.
What makes social media the most preferred tool for modern day marketing communications is the ability to understand your target audience, create focused strategies and measure results. Nevertheless, it comes along with its own risks and perils, no matter how appropriate and attentive you are in your social media marketing initiatives. The moment your business starts existing in the social media ecosystem, it becomes vulnerable to many kinds of potential threats.
For instance, back in 2014, a US-based pharmaceutical company faced public outrage on social media for its decision to not allow an 8 year old cancer-stricken boy to take its experimental drug, which may raise the chances of his survival. As an experimental drug, the company took the right ethical decision not to test it with a young boy. But it faced a lot of public anger on social media that made the firm reverse its decision; the boy survived.
Social media risk management is a completely different domain of expertise than social media marketing. Besides social media marketing, businesses have started setting budgets for social media risk management long ago. This may involve a tool or software to monitor their social media channels and brand mentions or outsourcing to an expert team of social media analysts helping them monitor and assess risk exposure and plan social media strategies meticulously.
The impact of a fallible social media strategy or its absence could have a long-lasting impact on your brand as it did in case of Nestle’s flagship product ‘Maggi’ in India. A social media campaign to reverse the widespread belief that the product has been called back from many retail stores because of its lead concentration, didn’t work to the strength of the brand. The reputation of Maggi both online and offline keeps deteriorating. Thus, it is imperative for businesses to put their social media channels under scanner to mitigate or nullify the risks and damages done in case of any unfortunate event.
The following perspectives put businesses and social media professionals under a lot of vigil as they have the potential to expose the social presence of businesses to enormous threats.
1. Compliance requirements: Digital communication is not simple as there are a number of requirements that businesses should comply before engaging consumers over social media. Moreover, these requirements vary with geography, industry and culture making it more complex for the businesses to stick to their core philosophy across countries.
This is where social media compliance tools kick in to keep the social media access, content and other features under check and make businesses compliant across geographies, cultures and industries. There are many social media monitoring companies that help businesses in their social media audit, risk assessment, analysis and management.
2. Data & Privacy: Technology is not yet 100% secure. Online media is susceptible to malware and other hacks that make businesses wary of the risks involved in going social and its impact on the reputation of the business. When organizations operate globally, they should comply to the local regulation requirements to protect confidential information about the organization, client or any sensitive data from reaching the hands of cyber criminals. There are requirements stipulated for the collection, storage, handling and processing of data, which are to be met by the firms.
The recent Sony Pictures Entertainment hack is a good example of how unreliable the online security measures are, even though it didn’t involve any attack on Sony’s social profiles.
3. Content: Content is what your brand communicates to the customers and hence needs to be crafted precisely reflecting brand values and philosophy. Any erroneous step in the social media content may affect brand reputation and can spread much quicker across the web.
Businesses should engage a proper working mechanism that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of content creators, publishers, curators, CRM executives and others involved in social media marketing. There should be policies governing content creation and the process in which the content goes social.
4. Operational risks: These are the internal risks involved within an organization while publishing content on social media. There should be a mutual agreement with the employees on the ownership of content that gets published on the social profiles. It also involves monitoring what employees, as brand ambassadors, talk about your business on social platforms as it has a direct impact on your reputation. This inherently has a direct connection with the content policy for the employees on what to discuss on social platforms without harming the reputation of the organization.
5. Conventional risks: Being on social media spikes up the risks that are conventional to a business or an organization. Thus, social media may not be the primary reason for hazardous risks, let alone the cyber-attacks and malwares. Social media is a channel which amplifies the magnitude of reach and speed in which information travels. When the nature of information is negative, it can cause serious damage to the reputation of your business. A negative brand image is huge, which will have a lasting impact on your business until resolved effectively with social media risk management techniques.
As any other channel, social media is not risk-free, but the risks can be mitigated or nullified with the help of effective policies and practices. Businesses should start looking at social media risks seriously as they have the potential to bring down the reputation, in the same manner social media marketing helps businesses grow exponentially. Social media marketing and risk management cannot be treated equally, even though both are essential for any business to grow seamlessly. As the social ecosystem is gradually expanding its reach across the globe, the misconception that social media marketing and risk management are no different can have huge implications for businesses.