Social media risk management is the process of identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks that arise from social media. The goal of social media risk management is to help businesses ensure that they can maintain control over their social media communications with consumers.
More than 60% of the world’s population uses social media. According to DataReportal, over 9 in 10 internet users now use social media each month. And there are no signs of slowing down either—according to the same source, the global active user total increased by an average of 9.6 users per second.
There’s no doubt that social media platforms offer huge opportunities to businesses. This is why 77% of businesses use social media to reach customers, according to Forbes. However, social media has become a marketing powerhouse for any brand, making risk management crucial for success.
Social media presence is a table stakes for businesses nowadays. However, social media platforms hold potential risks that businesses have to be aware of to be able to prevent them. Let’s look at some of the possible risks of social media for business management.
1. Brand and reputation
One of the most valuable assets for your brand is its reputation. This is why you need to be extremely careful, especially when it comes to social media. The nature of social media platforms allows users to voice their opinions and share their experiences — whether they might be positive or negative.
Customers can publicly make complaints about your products or services, which can jeopardize your brand reputation if not managed correctly. When it comes to negative customer feedback, putting things under the rug won’t solve the problem.
You have to address negative feedback quickly and prevent an avalanche of negative comments that can open up a bigger social media crisis, which can be hard to handle. Make sure to respond to the negative feedback publicly and then move to a private conversation.
During the holiday season, Glossier faced an increase in delayed orders, so its social media team had to deal with a lot of negative comments and complaints. The team was trying to acknowledge the comments and move the conversations to private messages.
2. Operational risks
Depending on the size of the company, there are one or multiple people in charge of social media management. Once again, this can represent a potential risk since having multiple accounts and people in charge can lead to misalignment, poor-quality content, or insufficient oversight.
Another potential disruption can arise if a person who had access to your social media platforms leaves the company. You need to have processes in place that address all the necessary steps, such as removing access to social channels that the person leaving has, having someone to replace that person and continue posting, and ensuring a smooth transition in the meantime.
The bottom line is that without clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and processes, you are facing additional social media risks.
3. Cyber security
Cyber security is one of the most popular topics nowadays—and rightfully so, given the increase in cyber attacks and the severity of consequences. According to PwC, 37% of organizations believe they are “highly” or “extremely” exposed to cyber risks.
There’s an increasing risk of malware distributed through social media platforms. The reason? Phishing attacks and social engineering have moved from email or phone to sophisticated attacks through social media, making brands extremely vulnerable.
If your social media channels get hacked or your passwords get into the wrong hands, you can face a security breach with long-lasting consequences, such as being locked out of your account, stolen customer data, or lack of control over spammy posts published on your channels.
This is why social media employee trainings are vital, to prevent this from happening. Raising awareness of the potential red flags and training employees on how to react in such situations can save you a lot of headaches in the future.
4. Legal risks
Depending on the industry you operate in, there are different aspects you need to take into account when it comes to social media risk management. Working in a regulated industry such as healthcare, pharma, banking, and insurance brings higher risks because defamatory comments or posts can attract legal penalties.
Another legal risk is reusing user-generated content (UGC) without permission, which can infringe copyright. The power of UGC has made it one of the most used tactics for repurposing user content. However, if you don’t have the right processes in place that cover copyright, you might face serious consequences. Taking care of copyright is especially important if you work with influencers.
One brand that often uses UGC is Starbucks. There’s no doubt that the coffee brand gets thousands of photos of customers enjoying their favorite drink, so they use that to their advantage to present more versatile content on social media while also keeping in mind copyright protection.
5. Compliance risks
The rise in popularity of social media has brought the necessity for social media compliance.
Social media compliance refers to rules and regulations set by social media platforms, regulatory bodies, and individual companies.
What does that mean? It means you have to adhere to the guidelines set by each platform, stay compliant with additional industry regulations, and respect internal compliance policies when using social media.
Social media nowadays have strict rules to prevent misuse of their platforms. To avoid compliance risks, make sure to regularly review the terms of service, community guidelines, and advertising policies of the social media channels you are using.
6. Financial risks
Social media marketing can be costly, so it’s important that it meets the goals and provides a return on investment. Businesses that use social media channels to boost posts have additional risks in terms of credit card safety, which once again emphasizes the need for a social media risk management plan.
While negative customer feedback shared on social media can seem naive, it can quickly turn into a whirlpool that can result in dissatisfied customers and negative business performance and even affect a company’s share price.
7. Social and political risks
Businesses must be extremely careful about getting involved in social and political issues, as it might cause a crisis. Activists around the world use the power of social media as a way to amplify their messages, but they are also very vocal when it comes to companies that get involved in social or political issues.
The risk increases exponentially for companies that work on a global scale. The reason is simple: cultural differences make any social or political issue a very sensitive topic. That’s why it is crucial to have a better understanding of the local culture, social norms, and political environment to avoid any breach of local laws or customs.
Now that we’ve covered the most common social media risks, it’s time to address the ways to manage them but also prevent a similar scenario in the future.
1. Identify your goals and risks
Start by defining the goals you want to achieve through social media, as well as the potential risks your team needs to be aware of. Listing out the goals will set a solid foundation for the next steps.
Despite all the risks we’ve listed above, the biggest risk is not having a social media policy. A social media policy is a set of guidelines for social media use. It should define all the official brand channels, roles, and responsibilities of employees with social media access, and processes for all possible scenarios covering different social media risks. Also, your social media policy should not be set in stone. Make sure you review and update it regularly.
3. Train your employees
Good communication is key to effective social media risk management. Make sure your team is aware of the roles and responsibilities each member has, and they know how to act if they face a particular social media risk.
Keeping tabs on all your channels is crucial for social media risk management. The sooner you spot some issues, the quicker you’ll be able to react and prevent a bigger crisis. While your social media team is in charge of managing social media channels, in some cases, the comments or feedback you receive might require involvement from other teams as well, such as customer support, marketing, or legal.
In the never-ending cycle of posting new content, brands often forget to perform a social media audit. Besides the fact that it will help you evaluate each channel’s performance and understand your audience better, social media audits can also help you spot any inconsistencies in terms of branding, tone of voice, roles, and responsibilities, and inefficiencies that you need to solve to avoid any social media risks.
6. Respond to negative feedback
Leaving negative feedback unanswered can further provoke other negative comments that can slip out of your control. Instead of letting negative feedback fall on deaf ears, acknowledge the post or comment and take the conversation to a private message. However, this strategy will only work if you do your best to solve customer concerns and issues. Otherwise, it can bring even more negative comments.
7. Keep up with regulations and social media policies
The social media realm is constantly evolving, and as a result, all related regulations and policies are changing at the speed of light. Keeping up with the latest updates will ensure you avoid any social media risks.
Looking for ways to carry out social media risk management but don’t know where to start? Let’s look at some of the tools that can help you.
Social listening (or social media listening) is the process of tracking, analyzing, and responding to online conversations about your brand and industry. A social listening tool helps you understand your customers’ expectations and preferences. One of the tools that offers this proactive approach is Hootsuite. With Hootsuite Streams, you can find out what people are saying about your brand, monitor trends, and keep an eye on the competition.
In Streams, you can monitor the activity across all your accounts and engage with your audience. You can also create streams to mon your posts and engagement, as well as social topics, trends, and profiles.
Social listening features offered by Hootsuite:
- Monitor mentions, keywords, and hashtags to find out what customers want.
- Hop into relevant conversations across all your social networks to reinforce your brand as an industry leader.
- Set up feeds to identify and respond to negative feedback quickly.
#2 Consumer intelligence platform: Talkwalker
A customer intelligence platform collects and unifies customer data from various relevant data sources, giving brands data ready for analysis. To make data-driven decisions, you need to have strong insights backed by solid and reliable data.
Talkwalker brings together curated data from 30+ social networks, 150 million websites, and 100 customer feedback sources. The platform allows you to analyze customer feedback across all digital channels and get the actionable insights you need to improve customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty.
Consumer intelligence features offered by Talkwalker:
- Gain insights into customer preferences and pain points.
- Streamline data by consolidating social, review, survey, call, and customer care feedback in one location.
- Get insights faster through cutting-edge AI automation.
- Identify trends, patterns, and areas of concern.
Modern compliance and governance requirements include regulation for social media. Brands can face digital risks from using digital tools, platforms, and technologies and cyber security risks such as social engineering or phishing attacks. Proofpoint’s Social Media Protection software offers multi-channel content moderation, data loss prevention, and user protection, as well as comprehensive monitoring and automated remediation.
Social media protection features offered by Reputation:
- Find fraudulent social media accounts associated with your brand.
- Establish an approval workflow for social media posts.
- Implement content filtering and moderation.
- Define and enforce compliance policies and rules specific to your industry or regulatory standards.
Once influencer marketing passed the point when it was only available for the biggest brands in the world, it became widely adopted among small and medium businesses. The rise of micro and nano influencers has brought new opportunities for brands and some potential risks you must be aware of.
Let’s look at some of the biggest influencer marketing risks and why you should always perform a risk assessment before an influencer partnership.
1. Fake or low-quality influencers
One of the biggest hurdles businesses face when working with influencers is the amount of fake or low-quality influencers. Whether they have fake followers or no experience, working with this type of influencer can endanger your reputation. Choosing the right influencers can be especially tricky for businesses that don’t have previous experience working with influencers and creators.
2. Lack of transparency
Another potential risk is the lack of transparency about the partnership, which can compromise the brand and the influencer’s integrity and erode customer trust. In some countries, influencers working with brands disclose their relationship when posting sponsored content. For example, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) mandates that influencers disclose their material connections with brands clearly and conspicuously, whether they received compensation or discounted/free products.
3. Low ROI
Tracking results from influencer marketing campaigns can be daunting. In some cases, the results come in the form of increased brand awareness, which is hard to quantify. In other cases, brands can face low conversion rates or poor quality leads because of choosing the wrong influencers, bad campaign setup, or not having the right tools to measure performance. Brands that had negative experiences in the past can falsely label influencer marketing as a low ROI customer acquisition tactic, which can be further from the truth. To overcome this risk, brands must put measurable KPIs in place, use UTM codes, and analytics tools or influencer marketing platforms to track performance.
4. Misaligned expectations
Another common risk when it comes to influencer marketing is misaligned expectations. Should the influencer post two posts and three stories? In what time frame? Is there a specific discount code they should use? The tone of voice? If you want to work with influencers, you must clearly define all your expectations so that both sides know what is expected of them and what they get in return.
5. Unexpected crisis
Due to the attention they get all the time, influencers are always in the spotlight. This can sometimes cause issues, especially if they make mistakes or post something inappropriate or offensive. We’ve witnessed the rise of ‘cancel culture’ in the last couple of years. People are quick to judge and condemn influencers publicly. While this can be devastating for influencers, it can also be hazardous for brands. Brands that work with controversial influencers might face backlash and criticism or even boycotts. This is why you need a crisis management plan that your team can follow and act quickly in case you encounter some unexpected crisis.
What are the Best Ways to Manage Influencer Marketing Risks?
Influencer marketing isn’t one-size-fits-all. However, some best practices can help you build a solid foundation and avoid influencer marketing risks in the future:
- Find the right influencers for your business – Whether you want to work with nano, micro, or macro influencers, there are plenty of creators out there you can partner with. However, you need to find the ones that share similar values and have a similar audience to the niche you are targeting.
- Set the expectations upfront – Covering all the aspects of the partnership upfront is critical so that both sides are aware of the expectations, KPIs, and deliverables. This way, you’ll eliminate every possibility of pointing fingers further down the road. Remember, the goal is to form long-term partnerships with influencers that bring results.
- Monitor posted content – Even after you agree on all the details, you must keep an eye on the published content to ensure it aligns with what you’ve agreed.
- Have a crisis management plan in place – The goal of having a crisis management plan is to reduce the risk of a crisis happening. And if you already face such a situation, knowing what steps to follow will help you act promptly and prevent further damage.
- Partner with an influencer marketing platform – If you want to get the benefits of influencer marketing without the heavy lifting, you need an influencer marketing platform. With Afluencer, you can meet the ideal influencers for your brand by setting criteria based on interests, followers, and channels. Besides this, it allows you to communicate with influencers through the platform and becomes your single source of truth for managing different influencers across different platforms. The best part is that you can track creators’ performance and make data-driven decisions.
Ready to Fuel Your Business with Influencer Marketing?
Social media is here to stay. Businesses can use it to their advantage, but they must first implement a proactive social media risk management strategy to identify and assess potential social media risks and prevent them from happening.
Influencer marketing, as one of the fastest-growing customer acquisition channels, also holds certain risks. However, working with an influencer marketing platform will help you reap all the benefits while staying compliant and protecting yourself from any potential risks. Curious to find out how?