Organizations are still trying to figure out how social media will fit into their overall marketing fabric. And that's not an easy question to answer.  There are all sorts of risks associated with social media. Social media has an air of openness, frequency and connectedness.

The very essence of social media can pose many risks to organizations because there is a lot less control over the message.  Does that mean you shouldn't do it?

Some tips on avoiding risks and being successful in social media:

  • Frequency - people signed up to your blog/twitter/fan page for a reason.  They want to keep up to date on what you have to say.  Don't abuse this but don't be lazy either.  If you update too often you're bombarding them and they will unfollow you.  Update once a year and either they'll forget you are there, or take you off their list for adding no value to them.
  • Be real and empathetic - As a company, you don't want to air your dirty laundry but it's important to address what the public thinks and feels.
  • Listen - this is probably the best use of social media for companies but also the riskiest.  I read an article how someone twittered about Jet Blue and within hours Jet Blue was following them on Twitter.  Understanding what the public really thinks will save you.  You can't correct what you don't know is wrong.  Have a plan in place to quickly address issues, not EVERY issue you see people complaining about, but unanimous issues because chances are if it's come up more than 5 times you can bet a lot more people feel the same way who don't have access to technology to scream about it.
  • Set up controls - many social media channels now have tools that can help organizations get on board while managing risks. Blogs, for example, have settings that allow you to approve comments before they are published.  Warning: be careful about unapproving posts though, allowing legit complaints on to your blog comments are essential in "being real".  Responding to the legit complaint is a way of showing acknowledgment of the complaint and also that you value their opinion and are taking necessary steps to correct it.