Who Owns Social Media? Risk Management?

social fish
social fish

I’ve explored the similarities between building community and risk management before on this blog. First, I penned Community, Social  Media and Risk Perceptions and then Risk Management and Open Community: More Similar than You ThinkMy basic premise is that both social media and risk management are association-wide activities.

While speaking at the Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism and Maryland Council of Directors of Volunteer Services’ Power Up! A Conference for Volunteer Management Professionals, a participant raised the question of who owns social media. In her nonprofit, the Marketing Department controls all social media efforts and anything the volunteer manager wants to post has to go through Marketing.

So who owns social media in your association? Responsibility for social media can reside anywhere; information technology, public relations, marketing, communication, public affairs/policy or even membership. The challenge is to make sure the owner knows how to share and play well with others. Regardless of who owns social media, all employees, members and volunteers should be able to participate.

The importance of being a social organization is gaining traction within the business world. Even IBM has studied the value of being social, IBM Study: If You Don’t Have a Social CEO, You’re Going to be Less Competitive. “Being social” is the new imperative for success. Read Humanize, it you’re not convinced.

Innovation is another popular business topic and it gets people talking about risk taking but we need to increase people’s risk awareness. People focus on risk intermittently usually as an argument against a new initiative (“it’s too risky”). Risk is a part of life but few people or organizations have a system or technique to identify and analyze it. The discipline of risk management provides such a process. To be successful, like social media, someone needs to own risk management.

Most people agree you should manage risks but few associations have a risk manager or even a position assigned responsibility for managing risk. Many don’t know where to start to structure their risk management activities. So I’ll help – adopt a risk management policy and strategy.

Every association should have a risk management strategy. A risk management policy explains the role of risk within the organization. The policy states how much risk the organization is willing to accept in pursuit of its strategic objectives. Once you know your risk appetite it is easier to decide which risks to take and which to avoid.

Establish a system to identify and analyze the risks associated with your business activities as a part of your decision-making. Identifying risks is tricky since you don’t know what you don’t know, and that’s why I have written many articles and given lots of presentations on social media risks. This is also a reason to include as many people as possible in the risk analysis process.

Associations’ social media programs are further along the evolutionary chain than risk management. Many associations have at least one staff person (full- or part-time) dedicated to their social efforts while enabling others to participate. Similarly someone has to be responsible for risk management activities within your association. And all employees, members and volunteers need to be involved – managing risk is everyone’s job. Therefore, both risk management and social media should be embedded in your culture with everyone playing a role.

Establishing a risk management strategy is similar to creating your social media strategy. Determine:

  • What you want to accomplish;
  • Your goals and objectives;
  • What you are already doing;
  • How to accomplish these goals;
  • Train your staff how to manage risk; and
  • Monitor your activities and results.

As I said, social media and risk management have a lot in common. Use the lessons learned from your social media journey to embark on your risk management odyssey.

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