Social Media Risk Management Strategies

Social Media Marketing
Social Media Risk Management Strategies
Last Updated: June 17, 2024

Today, social media plays a huge part in our lives. To many, it is a preferred place to hang out, find information, keep up with the news, and even make decisions. In a constant state of flux, it is affecting personal identities, marketing strategies, and business competitiveness.

But while it offers huge opportunities for engagement and brand building, there is a whole set of associated risks for businesses that threaten their security and reputation online. Robust social media risk management is, therefore, crucial to help address the challenges thrown up by it.

Let’s go into why managing social media risks is important, identify the different types of risks, and provide strategies to manage them effectively.

What Is Social Media Risk Management?

Social media risk management involves identifying, assessing, and mitigating potential risks associated with social media use. These risks can be categorized into four types:

  1. Reputational risks
  2. Security risks
  3. Compliance risks
  4. Operational risks
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1. Reputational Risks

These risks involve anything that can harm your brand's reputation, such as negative comments, false information, or damaging content.

For example, in 2017, United Airlines faced a reputational crisis when a video showing a passenger being forcibly removed from an overbooked flight went viral on social media. The incident sparked outrage and led to widespread criticism of the airline's handling of the situation, causing significant damage to its reputation.

2. Security Risks

Social media accounts are susceptible to hacking, phishing, and other cyber threats, which can compromise sensitive information and damage your audience’s trust.

For instance, in 2020, Twitter experienced a security breach where high-profile accounts, including those of Elon Musk and Barack Obama, were hacked. The attackers used compromised accounts to promote a Bitcoin scam, highlighting the security vulnerabilities of social media platforms.

3. Compliance Risks

These risks arise from non-compliance with regulations, such as GDPR or industry-specific guidelines, which can result in legal penalties and damage your brand's credibility.

In 2019, Facebook was fined $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for violating user privacy and mishandling user data, in violation of the terms of a previous FTC settlement. The fine underscored the importance of compliance with data protection regulations.

4. Operational Risks

Poorly managed social media campaigns or errors in content can disrupt business operations, leading to lost opportunities and revenue.

In 2012, McDonald's launched a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #McDStories, intending to promote positive customer experiences. However, the campaign backfired when users hijacked the hashtag to share negative stories and criticize the fast-food chain, causing reputational damage and disrupting its marketing efforts.

Why Is Social Media Risk Management Important?

Having gone through the risks, it is getting clear that social media risk management is extremely important, as it can make or break your business. Let’s explore some of the key aspects of what effective risk management can do to help businesses avoid detrimental outcomes in their social media endeavors.

  1. Protects online brand reputation
  2. Offers security and data protection
  3. Prepares you for crisis management
  4. Lowers financial consequences

1. Protects Online Brand Reputation

Having a good online brand reputation is important for businesses to attract and retain customers. Social media risk management helps reduce reputational risks by monitoring online sentiments and addressing negative feedback in a timely fashion.

Effective risk management not only safeguards the brand's reputation but also enhances online reputation management, fostering trust and credibility among stakeholders.

2. Offers Security and Data Protection

Unfortunately, social media is a great place to become a target of cyberattacks and data breaches, which may result in considerable security risks to a business and its clients. Effective risk management involves putting in place appropriate security measures that ensure that information is safeguarded. These include encryption, two-factor authentication, and regular security audits.

3. Prepares You for Crisis Management

Crises can escalate rapidly on social media, potentially damaging brand reputation and credibility. Social media risk management includes developing a crisis management plan, conducting regular risk assessments, and training employees to respond swiftly and effectively in all scenarios. By being prepared for potential crises, businesses can mitigate reputational risks and minimize the impact on their brand.

4. Lowers Financial Consequences

Social media mishaps, such as data breaches or PR disasters, can have significant financial consequences for businesses, including legal fees, regulatory fines, and loss of revenue. By proactively managing social media risks, businesses can lower the financial impact of potential incidents, protect shareholder value, and ensure long-term financial sustainability.

Social Media Marketing Risk Management Strategies

Implementing effective risk management strategies is vital for businesses engaging in social media marketing. Here are the key ones to consider.

  1. Develop a social media policy
  2. Perform regular social media audits
  3. Build a strong social media management team
  4. Listen to audience feedback
  5. Train employees
  6. Always monitor social media
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1. Develop a Social Media Policy

Crafting a social media policy involves establishing guidelines and protocols for social media use within the organization. This policy serves as a foundational document that outlines acceptable behavior, content standards, and crisis response procedures.

By incorporating online reputation management strategy into the policy, businesses can ensure that every digital interaction aligns with the goal of maintaining a positive brand image and reputation. This includes guidelines for handling negative feedback, addressing customer concerns promptly, and upholding brand values in all social media communications.

A well-crafted social media policy consists of:

  • Roles of employees
  • Acceptable conduct and content
  • Regulations, legal restrictions, and sensitive information
  • Procedure for conflict or crisis
  • Call to action for participation

2. Perform Regular Social Media Audits

Regular social media audits are essential for online reputation monitoring, evaluating the effectiveness of social media strategies, identifying potential risks, and uncovering opportunities for improvement.

By conducting thorough audits, you can proactively manage online reputation risks by identifying and addressing any issues or inconsistencies in your social media presence. This allows you to maintain a positive brand reputation and respond effectively to any emerging threats or challenges.

These are some of the steps you could take for conducting a robust social media audit:

  • Review profile information
  • Assess content quality
  • Check security settings
  • Monitor brand mentions
  • Monitor competitor activity

3. Build a Strong Social Media Management Team

Your social media team is the frontline defense for your brand's online reputation. Building a strong social media management team involves assembling a team of skilled professionals with expertise in content creation, community management, analytics, and crisis communication.

By leveraging the collective strengths of the team, businesses can effectively manage social media risks and respond to reputation threats in a timely and strategic manner. Additionally, investing in ongoing training and development ensures that team members stay updated on best practices and emerging trends, further enhancing their ability to safeguard the brand's online reputation.

4. Listen to Audience Feedback

Actively listening to audience feedback involves monitoring social media channels for mentions, comments, and conversations related to the brand, its products, or the industry. By listening attentively to what customers are saying, businesses can gain valuable insights into their preferences, concerns, and sentiment.

This allows them to address any issues or complaints promptly, engage with customers authentically, and proactively manage their online reputation. Additionally, soliciting feedback through surveys, polls, and reviews provides further opportunities to understand and respond to customer needs, ultimately strengthening the brand's reputation and customer relationships.

5. Train Employees

Your employees are your brand ambassadors, representing your company's values and ethos on social media. It’s crucial to provide comprehensive training on social media best practices, crisis communication protocols, and brand guidelines.

64.9% of companies worry about brand reputation with employee social media use, alongside security concerns like scams. By educating employees about the importance of online reputation management and equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge, businesses can empower their workforce to act as brand ambassadors and mitigate risks effectively.

Additionally, ongoing training and professional development opportunities help employees stay informed about evolving social media trends and emerging threats, enabling them to adapt and respond proactively to reputation challenges.

6. Always Monitor Social Media

Social media never sleeps, and neither should your monitoring efforts. Real-time monitoring allows you to stay ahead of potential issues, track brand sentiment, and respond promptly to emerging trends or crises. This involves using social media monitoring tools to track brand mentions, sentiment, and engagement metrics across various platforms.

By staying vigilant and proactive, businesses can detect and respond to potential reputation threats promptly, minimizing the impact on their brand image. Additionally, monitoring social media allows businesses to identify emerging trends, capitalize on opportunities, and stay ahead of competitors, further strengthening their online reputation.

How To Avoid Social Media Risks?

And now, as you browse through your favorite social media channels, scrolling through the latest posts from friends and engaging with trending topics, a troubling thought crosses your mind: What if a negative comment or misleading post tarnishes your brand's reputation in the blink of an eye?

Don't fret! Here are some additional pointers to help you navigate social media risks:

  • Regularly back up data: Ensure that all social media content, including posts, images, and videos, is regularly backed up to prevent data loss in case of account compromise or platform outage.
  • Implement content approval processes: Establish a clear workflow for content creation and approval to ensure that all social media posts are reviewed by authorized team members before publication.
  • Limit access to social media accounts: Restrict access to social media accounts to only essential team members and use role-based permissions to control who can create, edit, or publish content.
  • Monitor third-party apps and integrations: Regularly review and audit third-party apps and integrations connected to your social media accounts to ensure they are secure and compliant with platform policies.
  • Review terms of service and privacy policies: Regularly review and understand the terms of service and privacy policies of social media platforms used by your business.

Social Media Risk Management FAQs

What are the common social media risks businesses face?

Social media risks can vary widely, but common ones include reputational damage from negative comments or misinformation, security breaches leading to data leaks or account hijacking, compliance violations with regulations like GDPR or FTC guidelines, and operational disruptions due to poorly managed campaigns or crises.

How can businesses monitor their online reputation effectively?

Monitoring tools and services can help businesses keep track of brand mentions, sentiment analysis, and emerging trends across social media platforms. By staying vigilant and responsive to online conversations, businesses can address issues promptly, engage with their audience authentically, and protect their brand's reputation.

What steps should businesses take to prepare for social media crises?

It's crucial for businesses to have a comprehensive crisis management plan in place, which includes designated spokespersons, clear communication protocols, and predefined response strategies for different scenarios. Regular training, simulated exercises, and ongoing evaluation of the crisis plan are essential to ensure readiness and effectiveness in managing social media crises.

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