Social Media and Risk: Much More than Marketing for Businesses

Lora Bentley

Social media is everywhere these days, and like Gartner execs said at a symposium earlier this year, businesses that embrace it will be better for it. Marketing pros love it for getting the word out, and consumers love it because companies often pay attention and respond to complaints more readily if they're tweeted, aired on YouTube or featured in a popular mom blog.


But beyond marketing or customer service strategies, is social media part of your risk management plan -- not just internally, but externally?


Contrary to the mantra of celebrities everywhere, there is such a thing as bad publicity. And enough of it, if it's not handled correctly, can be very bad for business. Take, for example, the now infamous YouTube video of Domino's Pizza employees sneezing on (or doing other unnsanitary things to) pizza being prepared for delivery. Though the employees involved maintained that the entire thing was a prank and the food in the video was never served to anyone, Domino's had to do damage control. The employees were ultimately terminated because company officials knew anything else would put the Domino's brand and reputation at risk.


With so many different social-media platforms, how is a company supposed to keep an eye on all of them for examples of what consumers are saying? In Tuesday's Forbes, writer Dan Woods points to different solutions designed to do just that.


First is software from Radian6, which Woods says the company's CEO describes as "a listening and engagement platform through which you can track conversations, get social media profiles of who is talking -- 'caller ID for the Internet' -- and most importantly, measure how rapidly attention is growing." According to its Web site, Radian6 clients include the likes of Pepsi, Microsoft, Comcast, March of Dimes and Southwest Airlines.


Woods then gives a nod to Autonomy's Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) platform which, he says, "does not rely on a model of content that must be maintained. Instead, a map of the meanings of what is being talked about is created and automatically updated as new content arrives." IDOL has been "scanning the Internet" for more than 10 years.

NetBase is a linguistics search platform, Woods says, that gets to "the deeper meanings" of sentences it reads. He quotes NetBase CEO Jonathan Spier like this: "Statistical approaches can get you to a document but not to a sentence."


Whether you're ready to tackle social media with monitoring solutions or you'd rather employ someone whose job it is to watch what the world is saying about your business is not my decision to make. But make sure you're doing something. The risk is too big to ignore.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Nov 18, 2009 10:36 AM Sean Mitchell Sean Mitchell  says:

I've done 'reputation management' for a big name in a big business, and while watching the social media space is a daunting task...dominating the first (full) page of Google results for a company name is another vital, and labor intensive element to consider.


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