7 Things You Should Know About Social Media. 3: Yes, there are risks
The most common argument we hear from businesses and organisations against having a social media presence is that the risk is too high: "as soon as we get on social media, people will come flocking to post nasty comments about us. And then our Comms team/CEO (delete one) will go ballistic."
Yes, people might post nasty comments. But the experience of organisations we've worked with is that even nasty comments can work to their advantage. One such organisation created a Facebook Page to help it retain existing donors and attract new donors. Soon after they got on Facebook, someone posted negative comments about the organisation on their Page. Before the organisation could react officially, they were surprised to find that their Facebook fans had reacted for them, posting responses to the negative comments and defending the organisation. The experience brought the organisation and its Facebook supporters closer together.
If your organisation does a good job, your users will rise up to defend you. And if your organisation does a bad job, why are you wasting time thinking about social media? Focus on fixing the things you're doing wrong!
To think of it another way, you and your team probably send hundreds if not thousands of emails a week. Each of those represents a communication that can go horribly wrong. But does that stop you sending emails? No. You accept the risks because the benefits outweigh them.
You may have a policy covering what can and can't be said in emails sent on your agency's behalf. If so, you can and should create such a policy for social media, too, although you should beware of making it so restrictive that it becomes no more than a channel for links to company media releases.
Life is about the balance of risk and reward. Don't be so scared of the risks of social media that you let the rewards pass you by.
(Incidentally, there is a much better reason not to have a social media presence than concerns over the risk: we'll come to that in the fifth post in this series.)