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Identifying and reducing Facebook risks

by Randall Craig on October 23, 2015

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Risk, Social Media

Tagged as: , , ,

While many people enjoy Facebook for personal use (connections to family and friends, posting photos, playing games), does it really have a role in business?
Whether the answer is yes or no, one thing is certain: Facebook represents a risk vector that must be considered.  In no particular order, here are five risks to consider – and what to do about them:
  1. Rules can change midstream:  Facebook is a business whose goals are not the same as yours. In their quest to maximize revenue, the platform can change its layouts, features, permissions, and privacy policies with impunity.  What would happen if you rely on a feature, and it suddenly is cancelled (or has a price tag attached to it)?  Mitigation approach:  Monitor for changes, and rely only on Facebook as one part of an overall strategy.
  2. Facebook owns the users – not you:  While you may think that you own your fans, your ability to understand them, communicate with them, or use the relationships is limited to Facebook-controlled actions within the Facebook platform.  With Facebook, you are a tenant, not a landlord.  Mitigation approach:  use messaging and incentives to drive your fans to register in your off-Facebook “owned” systems (e.g. Marketing automation or CRM systems.)
  3. Target audiences may move:  Just because users chose to be fans at one time doesn’t mean they still have that same affinity: they may choose to engage on a different platform.  MySpace – and organizations who relied on the platform – learned this the hard way a number of years ago.  Mitigation approach: invest in community management to keep users engaged, and test for traction on emerging social media platforms.
  4. Imposter or unofficial pages:  It is easy for a “fan” (or a detractor) to set up a page purporting to represent your organization.  And Facebook will sometimes manufacture a page with your organization’s name on it – that can be claimed and modified by just about anyone.  At best, these pages will confuse users; at worst, they can destroy your brand.  Mitigation approach: Monitor for trademark infringement, and take over (and possibly shut down) thees pages.
  5. Inadequate resourcing and monitoring:  Just because a Facebook page is free to set up, doesn’t mean that it is free to operate.  Negative or inappropriate comments can quickly spread if not properly checked.  Or a once vibrant page can quickly become a ghost town.  Mitigation approach: Ensure that the page is monitored and managed by a person who actually has the time and capability to do so.  
This week’s action plan:  These five risks are common to every social media site – not just Facebook.  This week, consider how you might mitigate your risk on each platform that you use.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Digital Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of eight books, including Digital Transformation for Associations, the Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business, and Social Media for Business. He speaks and advises on Digital Transformation, Digital Trust, and Social Media. More at

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