Nine years ago when social media was in its infancy, when FaceBook had only 500,000 users in Australia, Twitter was still in nappies and no Snapchat, I started a social media intelligence business.
Unlike many of my contemporaries who saw social media as a shiny new marketing tool, I was convinced, as its reach continued to grow, it proposed a substantial reputational, organisational and regulatory risk.
Social media is a ubiquitous beast and the opportunities and risks it presents have never been greater.
You could view it as an anarchic pub brawl between venomous trolls and mindless memes – which it can be. Or you can view it as the world’s largest single data-base containing massive amounts of valuable information about every aspect of why people make the decisions they do.
Decisions about how to vote. What to buy. Where to holiday – and what health care solutions and institutions to consider, trust and support.
Threat to reputation and brand continues to haunt the dreams of C-Suite executives but there seemed little you could do about mitigating that risk. The emergence of Social media changed that dynamic. Suddenly reputational risks emanating or accelerated by social media platforms could be monitored, detected, analysed and acted upon. A new breed of knowledge worker– the Social media Risk Analyst- a role that never existed before was born.
Social media is an unstructured and constantly changing data universe full of bankable information from the broadest of topics to the most granular of opinions.
If you are truly intent on mitigating and managing risk in today’s world you ignore the ability to monitor and analyse social media at your peril.
So how do you do that and what is the difference between social media monitoring and robust social media intelligence as applied to risk management?
If you return to your organisation after today and ask the question – Are we monitoring social media? – you’ll probably be told you are. And this is probably true at a high level. But monitoring is different from analysing social media from a risk reputation standpoint. Just ask someone in corporate communications is they think ‘all news is good news’.
There are umpteen social media monitoring tools on the market. However, it is not the tool but what you do with the information that really matters.
The real question you need to ask of your organisation is how social media risk management data is analysed, reported and acted upon. This is a governance issue which is assuming a greater importance at board level and could be the canary in the coalmine.
At the core of all successful social media intelligence – from a risk management perspective – is social media research and the insight and ability of the researcher associated with it.
Social media isn’t “a basket of deplorables” to be neglected but rather a valuable data-base worthy of your skills and attention.
You might just find that canary.