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What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

By May 24, 2010 One Comment
Nuclear Blast 1945
Image by thw05 via Flickr

I’m working on a presentation, for giggles, that ties some of social media’s biggest “mishaps” back to quarterly revenues and stock prices. You know, something that probably should have been done a while ago…

I’m doing it because someone needs to connect these dots and I haven’t come across anybody else really doing it. There has been so much to do about social media, both historically and recently, that I’ve been wondering for some time now, along with Peter Kim, if social media has any impact on a business’ bottom line.

I gotta say, that I’m not very surprised with the results from my research, so far.

The Risk of Catastrophic Failure

Fears of DEFCON 1 abound. I hear about the risks associated with social media everyday as we attempt to push the social media envelope within a Fortune 100 company. And these fears are all larger than life. I will concede that there are risks involved with external social media from around the enterprise.

But I argue that they’re not catastrophic in nature… at least not yet.

So I’ve been wrapping my head around the bad things that could happen to a company as a result of corporate social media gone wild, and it’s become clear that not all social media is created equal from a company’s perspective. A distinction needs to be made between social media that a company produces, for inbound marketing purposes or what have you, and the social media that is produced and shared from outside the company based on something that happened with the company.

In other words, there’s stuff that your company can do bad in the social media world. But there is also stuff that your company can do that is bad and gets spread around social media networks like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Here’s what I’ve been able to come up with during my research so far:

the boss is crazy This is social media that your company produces and shares on-line. And if your company is afraid to let the CEO have a voice on the internets because he/she may say something that upsets your customers and potential customers, then you may be worried about a risk that has a potentially high impact, but a historically low probability of becoming an issue.

the employees can’t be trusted Again, this is social media that your company produces and shares on-line. And of all the risks out there, I understand why this one is popular the most. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be mitigated, however. And my favorite response is that every organization’s employees are having analog conversations with friends, family and neighbors every day. If there is something wrong about the culture, those conversations are going to occur regardless.

the ads make people angry This is traditional media that gets spread around on the social web. Now, I know that it’s great to have people click on your company’s ads on YouTube just because they’re cool. But let’s say that your company makes an ad that offends people? Then what… catastrophic failure, or what?

the product is bad This is news that gets spread around on the social web. If your product is bad, or can not live up to the claims that you’re claiming, then people will find out about it and they will pass it along to their friends who they think would benefit from the information. I really like this category, because it focuses more on your company’s reason for being in business and less on fluff.

So What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

I’m hoping to have something put together in the this week/next week time frame. That is if I can stay motivated on it, because as I mentioned it’s just something I’m doing because it’s interesting to me. In the mean time, ask yourself which category your fears of corporate social media fall into, and why.

One Comment

  • nickhuhn says:

    nailed. it. my scar tissue and i are speechless.

    anxious to see your results for companies local to louisville and beyond. 🙂