I spoke at a great business breakfast recently about the impact of social on commerce in Australia and was struck by how traditional businesses can find sound reasoning not to engage in social conversation.
The key objection I heard was around Risk, which is interesting given how big business currently thinks about the notion of Risk.
Risk Management is defined as the identification, assessment and prioritization of risks, coupled with coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor and control the probability and/or impact of unfortunate events.
Commercial exposure from unfortunate events is inevitable, and in a world of Twitter and Facebook the pace of at which that Risk manifests is astonishing. The viral nature of Social therefore undermines the traditional view of Risk mitigation and damage control – so the first thing big business has to do is acknowledge that the world has already changed, they just haven’t caught up yet.
We know that people have an inherent desire to share, regardless of the sentiment. If a business has no means to monitor/control the conversation, that’s where the risk exists. And establishing a social platforms early is the only answer.
If your customers are worried, give them a platform to share their concerns, make them feel like they are heard, while you monitor and moderate the conversation. Take some control of the discussion. If they are angry, frustrated or even delighted, give them a platform to engage and share.
There is no reason why the conversation platform you provide can’t operate with strict rules of engagement and therefore the existing risk framework. Sure there are NEW RISKS attached to social engagement, but they exist already, start mitigating these new risks before the unfortunate event you fear most.
Five key truths about Social engagement:
•Your customers will find very effective ways to broadcast “feedback” about you online whether you like it or not
•Monitor and moderate the conversation, but never astrosurf
•Social brings New Risk to business, get used to it!
•It’s prudent to provide a platform BEFORE the event you fear the most happens
The issue I describe here around the inevitability of social engagement is told well by the history of a UK Cable company NTL (now Virgin) and its relationship with a consumer lobby group nthellworld in 2000, worth a read.