Thursday, January 27, 2011

'Social' risks - are they unique?

Social Business is all about mitigating risks in support of driving business value.  Risks come in multiple dimensions:  business, legal, HR, technology, etc..  As companies begin to better understand the risks resulting from participating in social conversations, it's interesting to think about which are unique to 'social', and which are fundamentally enterprise risks that existed years ago.  Some examples of potential risks :
  • Someone could post some comments that could potentially damage a company's brand image.  
  • An employee could post confidential information, which could impact a product announcement.
  • An employee could share someone's personal information, which could violate privacy laws.

The question is ... are these unique to social?  Prior to social capabilities ... could someone write an article in a newspaper that could potentially damage a companies brand?  Could an employee e-mail a confidential document to an un-authorized person?  Could an employee copy an external person on a personnel e-mail to an employee with their personal information?

The answer to all of the above is .. YES.   While there are some risks that could be unique to social, most of them are not.  So, when we talk about social business and the associated risks, what are the 'social' risks?

We need to consider the dimensions of risk:  their impact and likelihood of occurrence.  
  • Impact:  While many of the risk themselves may not change, their impact may change .... due to the viral nature of social.  In the case of the newspaper article above.  This comment may only be viewed by a few thousand people (depending on the distribution of the paper).... while it now has the potential to spread in a viral fashion to millions of people very quickly.   
  • Likelihood:  Let's now think about the likelihood of occurrence dimension.   With the easy access to blogging tools and twitter feeds, there are millions more people with easy access to express their opinions (both good and bad).  Could this drive a greater likelihood that someone may post some comments that could damage your brand?
When companies consider the social risks in these new dimensions, they will need to identify ways to mitigate these 'new' risks.  It's highly recommended that companies take the time, and conduct a Social Media risk assessment.  I'm sure it will uncover new insights and recommendations.

I welcome any comments or additional insights you'd like to share.

1 comment:

  1. I created a social media risk assessment. The template is available here:

    Check it out and leave feedback for refinement and improvement.