Maureen O’Neil here. During recent interactions with clients, I wasn’t surprised to hear that many are considering social media initiatives. That’s because the fastest growing segment of Web content is blogs, message boards and social communities. These forms of social networking upend the traditional form of top-down information dispersal because information freely flows in and out of an organization.
Social networking sites provide businesses a new way to extend their brand identity, establish a community experience for their customers and provide personalized interactions. At the same time, such sites usher in novel forms of risk that can’t always be mitigated through traditional risk management strategies. Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn and Twitter, along with countless blogs and chats are Web environments where anonymously supplied information about a company’s products and services are shared and compared, in some cases inaccurately.
Social media exposes firms to significant risks including serious damage to a company’s reputation. With a proactive approach you can influence and counteract how your organization is portrayed on these social media. That requires companies to create an Internet reputation risk management plan that addresses what visitors to your site express, what your employees share on other sites and most significantly what things are said about your firm on sites over which you have no direct control.
Here’s how to begin to get a grip on protecting your reputation on the Web;
- Actively engage on social network venues to understand how reputation can be impacted by the interactions
- Gather information on the social media activities your company is considering. Then assess the areas of vulnerability, create counteraction plans and communicate them to employees.
- Dedicate at least one employee to the monitoring of your online reputation
- Build a process to identify new reputation risk elements as social media evolves
The risks enterprises face as a result of participating in social media are real. But so too are the benefits. Therefore don’t let risk blind you from taking advantage of the transformational communication opportunities arise from social media.
I’ll let my colleague French Caldwell have the last word. Here is his pithy take on risk management, Risk Management and Business Performance Are Compatible):
“Risk management is perceived as the opposite of business agility. In reality, risk management is about building a more agile enterprise – that is enabling an organization to take the greatest amount of risk in the safest way possible. It’s not about saying “no” to taking a risk; it’s about how to say “yes”.
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