Managing Social Media Risks within a Company

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Social Risk

Social Media has taken the world by storm. Many believe a social media revolution has taken place over the past decade at a rapid pace. As an executive you wonder if your organization can benefit from social media. You wonder if there are any real benefits to starting a program and if so in which functional area. Before embarking on a new program, I would like to give you a scenario from an executive’s perspective.

With all of the social media buzz in the business world you are wondering if its worth investing valuable resources in a program. Competitors have embraced digital marketing and optimized their website, created mobile applications, and integrated social media in existing communications. The company’s board of directors are inquiring about the benefits of social media and are interested in starting a program. According to a report by PWC, “Social media – The new business reality for board directors” http://pwc.to/gahXE1, directors need to Be Aware, Manage Your Own Reputation, Be in the know, and Engage in social media.

With so many networks and risk factors to consider, CEOs are unsure of where to turn for guidance. An IBM study titled “Leading Through Connections” http://ibm.co/MkCvKa of more than 1,700 chief executive officers in 64 countries revealed that “Believers are even unsure where to start. In the words of one Australian healthcare industry CEO, “Social media has grown faster than industry knowledge on how to use it.” However, CEOs believe the usage of social media to engage customers will increase from 16% to 57% within five years, outpacing traditional media.

Although executives may be unclear about how to bring social media within their organizations, a study conducted study conducted in April 2012 by the Conference Board and the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University titled “What do Corporate Directors and Senior Managers Know About Social Media” found that CEOs are clearly engaged in social media — over 60% of respondents reported using it in their personal life, with over 82% saying that they use it specifically to keep up with activity of friends and acquaintances. For professional and business uses, the overall percentage of CEOs using social media increases to 70.8%, with over 76% using it to keep up with the activities of professional associates and contacts.

As someone who has launched new products, advised the C-Suite, Board of Directors, and successfully deployed information technology projects, I have a wholistic view and framework approach to managing social media risk. For starters, organizations are mainly structured with the following functional areas; human resources, finance, operations, marketing, information technology, sales, legal, and compliance. So you are wondering where does social media fit within those areas. Although at first glance, social media is about enhancing a company’s brand, driving revenues, and engaging customers, which automatically places it in the marketing area. However, the impact social media has on an organization goes beyond marketing. According to Ben Watson, Vice President of Marketing at Hootsuite a social media program framework entails the following system and foundation.
C-Suite (Thought Leadership/Executive Profiles)
Sales (Partner Ecosystem/Sales Executives)
Human Resources (Recruiting/Recruiting Services)
R&D and IT (Tech Leadership/Influencer Community)
Marketing (Managed Social Networks/Brand Advocates)
Support (Community Support Forums/Support Channels)

As you can see, it’s an eye opener for those in the beginning stages of considering a social media program. In today’s digital world those executives, board of directors, and professionals who have an awareness of all the “moving parts” are ahead of the game. Also, being clear about whether your goal is to generate revenue from a social media program and/or manage risks. By getting clear about your objective you will then be able to ask the right questions and utilize valuable resources efficiently. Remember, succeeding in the digital space requires social education, social strategy, and social collaboration across all functional areas within an company.

By Cathy C. Smith
Chameleon Consulting, LLC
E-mail: cc@chameleonconsultingllc.com
Website: www.chameleonconsultingllc.com

About the Author
Cathy C. Smith, Founder/CEO at Chameleon Consulting, LLC has a history of strategically transforming traditional organizations into digital businesses. Cathy has a 20 + years in financial services and has held senior management positions in Banking, Insurance, Government, and Non-profit organizations.

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