Social Media Risks & Rewards

Altimeter Group has released a new report stressing the importance of social media risk management. I was interviewed for this paper, along with representatives from leading brands (including some Ketchum clients), like Dell, DuPont and IBM, as well as agencies, like KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and vendors, like Salesforce Radian6 and Crimson Hexagon. It’s my pleasure to share it with you.

The report, Guarding the Social Gates: The Imperative for Social Media Risk Management, was prepared by Alan Webber, with Charlene Li and Jaimy Szymanski. It discusses the risk/reward paradox of social media. On the one hand, social media is a powerful tool for distributing content, engaging audiences and driving sales. On the other hand, it exposes organizations to a whole new assortment of vulnerabilities. Nearly two thirds of the companies surveyed cited the reputational risks associated with social media. (Frankly, I’m surprised this number wasn’t higher.) Facebook poses the greatest risk, according to respondents, especially due to the frequent changes to its features and privacy policies. At the same time, 60% of the companies surveyed never train their employees about their organizations’ social media policies or do so only during new employee orientation.

Altimeter wisely recommends that organizations redouble their efforts to manage social media risks, and this new reports provides a practical roadmap with which to do so. I recommend giving it a read. By taking appropriate steps to shore up social media vulnerabilities, organizations can effectively protect their reputations, safeguard intellectual property and other valuable information, and mitigate legal actions. This process, which closely resembles the approach we take here at Ketchum, includes an audit to identify existing risks, a prioritization of these risks, adoption of strategies, tactics to contain them and a sustainment program to continually re-evaluate this process.

Importantly, Altimeter stresses the value of both ongoing employee training on social media policies and direct, hands-on involvement by senior executives, including boards of directors. Again, this is entirely consistent with our experience with Ketchum clients. A social media policy lives through its people, and top-level leadership and accountability are keys to successful adoption throughout an organization.

If you’d like to know more about Ketchum’s approach to social media risk management, feel free to contact me at [email protected], or reach out to a digital strategist near you or any member of our Issues & Crisis group.