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Insight: 34 Social Media Risks

by Randall Craig on May 8, 2015

Filed in: Blog, Insight, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Risk

Tagged as: , , , ,

Most leaders are not aware of the range of risks that lurk behind the shiny pull of many Social Media sites and activities.  Many can be mitigated if identified in the planning stages, through training, policy, or through changes of internal process. Monitoring can catch others; early detection can lessen their impact. Finally, some risks are just too high, and should be avoided completely.

The list below identifies some of the risks we’ve encountered over the years.


  • Legislative Risks (CASL, Accessibility)
  • Identity Theft and Brand Hijacking
  • Auto-generated Profiles
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Disengaging key audiences
  • Social Media consolidation
  • Poor (or no) community management
  • Ghost Town
  • Embarrassing posts
  • Social Engineering
  • Competitive Trouble-making
  • Crisis management
  • Keyword matching
  • Profile counter-messaging (using PPC ads)
  • Stakeholder expectation mismatch
  • Comment spam
  • Listening without hearing
  • Contest fraud


  • No Policy or Guidelines
  • No training
  • No monitoring or measurement
  • Employee productivity
  • Risky employee use
  • Improper use of Social Media for candidate sourcing or reference checks
  • Bad hires
  • Departmental Social Media “expert” or intern becomes a lone cowboy
  • No integrated Contact Center capability (Click to Chat, Twitter, etc.)
  • Unempowered Contact Center or Social Media group staff
  • Non Social Media-savvy people as official spokespersons
  • Underestimating the influence (and speed) of Social Media
  • Senior leadership misuses it (or doesn’t use it at all)
  • Website/Blog attacks
  • Ownership of Followers, especially when an employee leaves
  • Not using it to engage stakeholders…

This week’s action plan:  How many of these risks do you recognize?  This week, identify the top 2-3, and take steps to mitigate them.

PS:  Are there more risks to add to the list?  Let us know and we’ll update the post…

PPS:  We have developed social media risk mitigation policies for many organizations.  Interested in a short conversation on the topic?  Please reach out at, or 416-256-7773 x101

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

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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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