I wrote a comprehensive post a few years ago about the risks of blogging. You could just rename it 10 Risks of Social Media because they are the same ones. But I missed one important risk.
There is a steep downside to not participating and these factors should be weighed as seriously as the risks of participating. Given the quick adoption underway and subsequent maturation of social media networks, the costs become more pronounced with each month that passes.
If you are a company wondering if you should get involved, or an employee, consultant or agency trying to verbalize why a client or boss should consider social media, this list is for you.
10 Opportunity Costs of Ignoring Social Media
- Competitive disadvantage: More companies are incorporating social media into their communications arsenal every day. If your competitor does this before you and does it well, they will enjoy a significant bump in perception.
- Rumors and innuendo: Some of the most harmful attacks a company could encounter include out-of-control rumors and false information. Rumors are much easier to correct when caught early. Being in social networks is a quick way to set the record straight.
- No platform to respond in crisis: When there is an outcry in social media channels, a pre-existing presence in social networks give you an advantage.
- Employees talk: With Pew Internet saying that 35% of people that use the Internet use social networking sites, it is a given that a large percentage of employees have one or more social profiles. Moreover, It is likely that they will occasionally talk about their job. By giving these employees guidelines, companies can harness positive word of mouth, avoid inappropriate comments and have reasonable consequences in place.
- Opportunities missed: One of the unintended benefits for companies that participate in online social communities and blogs are the opportunities that unexpectedly present themselves. Just by participating, a company sets itself up to be recognized in a positive manner by the community. These are as important to consider as the downsides (negative comments, etc.).
- Silence can equal guilt: By not being present in social networks, it would take an unacceptable period of time to respond appropriately, causing a company to seem silent when it simply is out of touch. In social networks, response must happen in hours vs. days.
- Lost search benefit, search engine optimization: Regularly updated information, such as a blog or news site, would help to raise the profile of of a company in search engines. And as it has been said, Google is the new corporate homepage.
- Defined by others: The issues important to a company– and which impact its overall reputation – will be defined by others if you don't take a leadership position.
- No early warning: Monitoring social media channels often reveals potential problems that could break out into a broader media audience. By not being involved, companies are missing out on this early warning system.
- No direct channel: Social media provides a means by which you can reach out directly to your stakeholders without having to rely on the media to deliver the message. It is an important part of modern communications planning.
What other opportunity costs that you can think of?
UPDATE: BlogTalk Radio interviewed me about this post. You can listen to the interview here.
- 10 Risks for Corporate Blogs (and Social Media Efforts)
- Beth Kanter, What's the opportunity cost when a nonprofit blocks employees from using social network sites during work hours?
- Jeff Molander, Convincing the Boss to Invest in Social Media (interview with Sam Decker Bazaarvoice)