According to a recent study, corporate communications managers consider social media one of the biggest business risks, ahead of privacy and cyber threats, extreme weather conditions or supply chain problems.
Or at least, this impression is given by the “Communications Leaders Risk Survey” study by the risk management service providers Crisp and Kroll that asked 100 communications managers in North America and Europe about their role as risk managers. The majority of respondents were from companies with sales of more than $500 million and around 50% with sales of more than $1 billion. Three quarter of those surveyed stated that they are involved in their company as a strategic advisor on risk issues. At the same time, 88% said that they were increasingly the primary contact for such cases.
What the study clearly shows is the fact that organizations typically lack the technology and resources to effectively monitor online communities. More than two thirds of those surveyed (68%) therefore expect to encounter new and unknown risks for their companies in this context.
Many companies are not able to cover all relevant channels. The communications executives surveyed stated that their companies only monitor an average of 6.4 publicly accessible social media channels. Very few are monitoring non-public channels such as online forums, messenger apps or alternative online platforms on which groups can coordinate themselves.
According to Vikram Sharma, Managing Director of Crisp, companies operate in a very polarized environment today, which means even those companies that live their values consistently in their day-to-day business are not immune to public criticism from consumers, employees and shareholders.
There are also groups that use digital communication channels in a targeted manner to improve their reputation, processes or market value of a business. Communications officers must take every advantage to ensure they are aware of such developments in a timely manner, in order to be able to take preventive action.
Certainly, this topic is becoming increasingly relevant at management level too. Those surveyed stated that the volume (55%), the variety (57%) and the speed (60%) of online communication are the greatest concerns for top management. And when looking at the most serious consequences of risks that were not identified and managed in good time, those surveyed mentioned:
- damage to company or brand reputation (93%),
- negative attention (92%),
- negative impact on employee morale and recruitment (73%),
- customer satisfaction (59%), and
- business results (46%)
The spreading of information via online media increased enormously as it provides brand visibility, which could unfortunately also end in misrepresentations or intentional attacks on the company and its public perception. Therefore, marketing executives are increasingly concerned with recognizing negative information at an early stage, identifying the parties behind it and supporting appropriate countermeasures to protect their brand.
Further results include:
- Almost all (94%) of communications leaders surveyed agree that online communications shorten the window companies must respond to risk.
- For 88% of those surveyed, online communication channels are also an important source of information for identifying and managing risks at an early stage.
- 75% of those surveyed are not sure whether their company is able to identify and manage online risks in a timely manner.
- More than two-thirds (69%) believe it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.
- 73% say their organization is not investing enough in modern risk intelligence solutions to meet this business-critical challenge.
- More than two-thirds (77%) of those surveyed assume that the abovementioned uncertainties for companies will increase over the course of this year.