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To Tweet or Not To Tweet—Understanding the Risks in Social Media

By: Kenneth C. Hegel Jr.
Posted: July 13, 2011, from the July 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube, it is clear that social media is a phenomenon revolutionizing the way we communicate with one another. Texting, tweeting, blogging, viral videos and Facebook pages—whichever communication platform or method you choose—companies throughout the world are utilizing this new and exciting technology to reach the masses on a grander scale. They are using these venues to generate interest for their products and services for a fraction of the cost of the conventional advertising methods of old. This sounds almost too good to be true, which does beg the question—is it?

Power and Pitfalls

There is no question that social media is now a force to be reckoned with, and we have seen various examples of the importance and relevance of social media and its ability to change or impact society as we know it—from the 2008 U.S. presidential elections to the recent turn of events in the Middle East. And so there is no denying the benefit of using social media to introduce or promote your company and brands to the world.

But with any great new and exciting idea, there are also pitfalls and drawbacks. Let us be conscious of the fact that although social media can be credited for a wide array of positive outcomes, social media also has a darker side with negative consequences on individuals if misused. This can also be said about social media’s impact, when misused, on business.

The laws surrounding social media continue to evolve. This makes the responsibility of managing social media, and the content and platforms used, much more difficult for businesses today. Most companies do not consider the increased exposure and, in most instances, have yet to understand it. Organizations now looking to harness the power of social media must be able to understand not only its potential for positive outcomes, but also its potential for negative consequences. These discussions must be had internally, and an overall risk management plan must be put in place defining how to address these many diverse exposures.