Turning Social Risk into Social Opportunity

Risk management is a part of every business decision you make, and social media shouldn’t be an exception to that. Whether it’s an investment of time or money, when a decision is made at an enterprise level there are a lot of stakeholders involved, each with their own priorities.

Just think about how many people and teams are involved before you reach a decision on a new technology investment. Your CIO needs to ensure the safety and security of your existing systems, data, and IT infrastructure. Your CMO needs to protect the brand equity. Your CFO has to balance potential ROI with financial risk. More often than not, your legal team or Chief Compliance Officer will need to sign off too, either for general privacy concerns or if you’re in a regulated industry.

That’s not just a few cooks in the kitchen: it’s a veritable culinary institute.

When making an investment in a social solution, it’s easy to concentrate on the tangible outcomes. Will it help you better understand your audiences and increase engagement in your marketing efforts? Will it help you streamline and personalize your social care experiences? Ultimately, will it help you turn your social connections into customers and your customers into advocates? Those are all important questions to ask, but that shouldn’t be where you start—or stop—when it comes to making an investment in social.

You need to approach your investment in social solution with the same scrutiny as any other investment you make, and that means understanding how it helps you manage your risk. Here are the three questions you need to ask yourself before making an investment in a social media solution:

1. Ask Yourself: Are you protecting your brand from the inside?

Usually, when you talk about protecting your brand, what comes to mind are all of the external risks. You probably think about trademarks for your logos, company name, taglines, or slogans. You’re making sure that you’ve copyrighted any valuable assets and have legal protection for all your IP. And while all of that is important, there are internal risks too, especially when it comes to social.

In fact, the biggest risks on social often come from the complexity of your own organization. Organizational complexity means lots of people, and lots of people means lots of risk. These aren’t malicious risks—they’re just the cost of doing social at scale. You have multiple social accounts across a variety of networks, possibly multiple brands or properties each with their own presence. On top of this, you might have multiple geographies spanning several teams. That can mean dozens of people, if not more, publishing and responding on behalf of your brand on social. How do you protect a consistent brand voice in this environment?

Tips for managing this risk: Take the time to build out a social governance structure

Simply put, the answer is social governance. You need documented policies and processes backed up by a technology solution flexible enough to scale to those needs. Make sure that you’ve clearly defined user permissions based on team and role so that the right people (and only those people) have access to exactly what they need in terms of accounts and the actions they can take in the platform. Also make sure to document any team SLAs, who needs to approve what content before it goes out, and how you expect your teams to collaborate. Once you have those things in place, then make sure that you’re investing in a social solution flexible enough to meet your needs and give you visibility into governance.

2. Ask Yourself: Are you protecting your data and your customers?

The relationships your followers and customers develop with you on social feel personal because they are personal. Social is where people build trust with the brands they love. It’s where they interact with and share your content, it’s where they get their questions answered through your social care teams, and it’s where they show you all the love you deserve when they advocate for your content, products, or services. In short, social is a way to build trust, loyalty, and advocacy with the people you care about most.

But that trust and loyalty only works when you’re putting in the due diligence to protect the information people are sharing with you. Just as your followers and customers have trust in you, you need to have trust in the social platform that you’re investing in to protect that information. You need to make sure that your security and compliance needs are met at every point in your company’s tech stack, and that includes social.

Just as your followers and customers have trust in you, you need to have trust in the social platform that you’re investing in.


Tips for managing this risk: Bring your IT teams into the discussion

This might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s important to expand the conversation past social when you’re looking to invest in a social platform. Make sure that you’re escalating the discussions to the very real IT security and compliance risks that come up when you’re collecting, storing, and processing social data online. Get your CIO or IT teams involved in the decision making process when investing in a social solution. Really dig to understand data storage and protection policies around things like encryption, passwords, hosting, and data archiving.

3. Ask Yourself: If your entire team turns over, are you prepared to handle that?

I’ll admit it: this scenario is a bit extreme—but turnover is an expensive reality on your social teams, and it’s important to plan for it. Just take a look at millennials, a generation that’s now even larger than the baby boomers and that’s quickly becoming a large percentage of the workforce. A Gallup report found that 60% of millennials are open to new job opportunities and 21% say they’ve switched jobs within the past year.

Statistically, you’re going to experience turnover on your social teams. However, it’s not just the financial costs that you need to think about when somebody leaves. Yes, it’s expensive to find and hire talented, experienced social professionals. However, it’s the productivity cost that’s the biggest impact when it comes to social. Just because somebody leaves doesn’t mean the work they were getting done no longer exists. You still need to plan and execute your content strategy on social, and it takes time to ramp up new team members. Even if you’ve found and hired a replacement, it takes time to get that person up to speed and operating at 100%, and there’s a real risk that your work will slow down as that person learns your social policies, processes, and how your social platform works.

Tips for managing this risk: Push to understand services past day 1

Don’t stop at software when you’re looking at a social solution. Push to understand the services you’ll get and make sure they don’t stop day 1. A smooth initial implementation is important, and you should expect a quick time to value for your investment. However, your teams are going to change and you need a social solution that plans for that. Training and continued services flexible enough to meet your changing teams and priorities are key to sustained business value.

Investing in a social solution isn’t a marketing decision. It’s a business decision. Like any good business decision, it’s one that’s built upon understanding the risks at hand. In this case, it’s the risks you face when executing social at scale at an enterprise. From the strength of our platform to the scope of our services, Spredfast is built to scale to the needs of enterprise organizations.

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Christina Burgess is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Spredfast, where she helps tell the story about how Spredfast can help every organization realize the value of social. She is a boomerang Texan, who came to Austin via Washington D.C. and she is probably daydreaming about hiking or wandering through a museum right now.