Do You Focus on the Benefits of Social Media and Ignore the Risks?


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As marketers, we spend a lot of time extolling the benefits of social media. We talk about the access social media gives you to untapped markets. We while away hours explaining the value in engagement and the potential return on investment in a strong Hashtag campaign or well-written blog. The benefits of social media are practically endless. That’s the message, and for the most part it’s true.

But there is something else we should mention. Social media takes a lot of work and requires careful management. There are risks associated with social media, and those risks need to be managed. Unfortunately, we may have become a little too focused on the benefits of social media. A lot of businesses ignore the risks and a risk ignored is a risk exacerbated.

Social Media Risk Can’t Be Ignored

A recent report by Altimeter Group provided a reminder of how much we ignore social media risk. The report, called “Guarding the Social Gates“, highlights the potential risks associated with social media and the measures businesses use to manage those risks. It generated some pretty scary results for a lot of businesses.

The first thing that jumps out from the report is the sheer volume of potential social media risks identified by the businesses. Brand reputation and confidential data are most at risk, according to the report. But they identified many others. Things like identity theft, defamation and business continuity were all concerns for respondents.

As marketers, we’re most concerned with the brand and this report demonstrates that social media marketing is not as straightforward as it can appear. Whenever you promote your brand through social media you’re also creating a communications channel, which becomes a risk if it’s not managed correctly. Social media can be an incredibly effective tool when building a brand, but leveraging the benefits of social media requires skill and training.

Reaping the Benefits of Social Media Requires Training

According to the report, that training is not forthcoming in most organizations. Over 60% of staff are either social media trained on the day they’re hired, or not at all. This demonstrates a real lack of foresight in terms of brand building. How can you expect to reap the benefits of social media when you don’t provide basic training to your staff?

Your designated social media manager or marketing manager may have the required expertise, but they’re not the only ones representing your business on social media. Most of us mention our place of work in social media bios, or in posts. All it takes is a few inappropriate comments from a member of staff connected to your brands and you become a part of that conversation. Proper social media training can help you to avoid that risk. If you take it one step further, staff that are well trained on social media can become your front line of brand advocates.

That disparity between the benefits of well-trained staff and the risks created by badly trained staff is the reason reports like this are important. It’s vital that businesses understand that there are risks associated with social media marketing. Even creating a social media account and then failing to update it is a risk to your brand’s reputation. But there are so many benefits of social media engagement; you can’t afford to ignore it as a marketing channel either.

The key is management. Risk in a business needs to be managed effectively, in order for the business to function. In modern marketing, your social media channels need to be managed correctly in order to build your brand. Every one of your customers will expect you to have a presence on social media and they will equate that with your brand. Whether that creates a risk, or offers a benefit, is up to you.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Eoin Keenan
Media and Content Manager at Silicon Cloud. We help businesses to drive leads and build customer relationships through online marketing and social media. I blog mainly about social media & marketing, with some tech thrown in for good measure. All thoughts come filtered through other lives in finance, ecommerce, customer service and journalism.


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