The Risk of Social Media on Any Given Day

Social Media is Everywhere

Social media has changed the way we behave in almost every aspect of our lives and even our philosophies on leading an organization. Do a search on any company and you will probably find they have at least one or more profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and maybe even Instagram. It’s a whole new way to engage with your customers. If you are not using social media in your organization, you should want to!

However, new tools bring benefits as well as risks. As leaders we need to balance those risks and benefits. As we consider the risks, consider the supporting policy to mitigate those risks…putting your head in sand and ignoring it is not a policy…no choice…it is here and not going away.

So maybe you are thinking: “I don’t need to worry about this, I can keep doing it my old way and not be affected by the social media hype.” But social media is being used everywhere and will continue to increase in use. Your employees are using it. Your future employees are using it. Your customers are using it. Your business partners are using it. And, your competition is using it. Heck, even my 85 year old grandmother is using it! But every day your organization is using social media without the associated risk mitigation that well thought through policies provide is a day rife with significant organizational risk: legal, regulatory, financial and reputational.

If that doesn’t convince you, think about operating with outdated or non-existent policies as a game of organizational Russian Roulette. While on any given day, the odds may be in your favor, over the long haul they are not. Let’s drive this point home with a little math.

Assume that on “any given day”, there’s only a 0.1% chance that nothing bad will happen.

However, the problem is not with “any given day” but rather what happens when a series of “any given days” are strung together. When we apply a little math and look at the odds are over a longer period of time, we should get very very worried. What the math shows is that over a 1-year period (365 days), even if the daily odds are only 1 in 1000, over the long run, there’s a better than 30% chance that we’ll experience a serious issue. Over a 2-year period, this number rises to almost 52%. 3-years? 67%. So, for those of you who don’t think you have an issue, you’re probably living on borrowed time.

So get comfortable with the uncomfortable and jump into the proverbial deep end of the social media pool! But start with a healthy social media policy. Is your company already involved in social media? If so, does your company have a social media policy in place?

Christopher Wofford is Digital Media Producer and host of WebSeries at eCornell.
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