Marketing Charts reports on a Deloitte survey that puts social media's risk to reputation at the top of a list of risks for the group of global companies surveyed. That's ahead of brand (the 2010 top risk) and economic concerns. The reason cited: "reputations that take great efforts to build can be quickly challenged by social media mentions, leaving companies at a far greater risk than ever of losing control of the conversation."
I'm not at all surprised, having heard this from companies who actually decide NOT to have a social presence exactly because of that risk. In fact, I've found that social media has almost become synonymous with risk to some in senior positions who aren't in marketing or communications areas. One executive I know, when I asked about what they're doing about risk management (not meaning social media or even marketing communications at all), answered that they're ok because they don't get negative feedback in social media or the press.
The risks can be headed off at the pass with a brand strategy that's empathetic to target audiences, creating a brand presence that mitigates social risk by treating customers with respect and bringing them inside the brand experience. A social media strategy should be not only about promoting the brand but cultivating trust, listening and being responsive as much as sharing communications.
In the end, people think with their devices now and anyone wanting to know more about a company or product looks them up online. Without a well-managed social presence, companies run the risk of disappearing, seeming unengaged in its community, disinterested in customers or, at worst, having something to hide. That's how people people perceive things. Social strategies can mitigate those risks.
Brenda van Ginkel
Every great brand that's making a difference to people or the planet deserves to stand out and be noticed. I write about creative direction and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and those supporting them, packaging concepts with messaging for growth and audience engagement in a crowded, noisy digital space.