Risk vs. Reward of Social Media

Posted on Feb 15, 2011 by


Published for the inaugural BuzzMgr newsletter

As I was conducting a media training session at Michigan State last fall, men’s head basketball coach Tom Izzo asked a thought-provoking question regarding social media use: “Is the risk really worth the reward for these players?” He was referring to the negative impact an inappropriate Tweet or Facebook status can trigger, which has proven more than a few ripple effects in the past year. The talent in that room had every reason to aspire to the NBA and as a result, the overwhelming scrutiny on every aspect of their lives can be a weighty burden. Could a reckless comment spread on social media for public consumption cause them their chance to live a dream?

Kathleen HessertThe same question weighed heavily in a professional development meeting for NFL-NCAA professionals last week in Florida, and beyond sports, in meeting rooms throughout Corporate America, the halls of higher education, and governments, professionals are echoing the same worry every day.

I didn’t have a definitive answer for Coach Izzo, or for other skeptics I encounter. What I did say to Tom was, “your players will use it anyway and as a coach, you’re an educator. Continue to teach them best practices and hold them accountable for their actions.” Frankly, social media use has contributed to the toppling of the Egyptian regime and the saving of lives in the disaster in Haiti. The US Library of Congress is archiving every tweet since Twitter’s inception in 2006 and making it public record. We need to quit grousing about it and learn how and when to harness its power and influence.

Intelligent Social Media

Our e-newsletter (sign up in the sidebar) is about exploring the successes, challenges, depths and heights of social media. It’s about strategy and tactics; about monitoring the unaided focus groups that social media provide us and gleaning real business intelligence that can carry us and our organizations to new heights. And I for one will use this newsletter to explore the concept and application of what I call “intelligent social media”. It begins with transforming floods of data into knowledge and ultimately into valuable insight.

My husband says, “Kathleen, you’re not funny… do not try.” Yes, I can be serious but I love a good laugh too. Some of the best examples of social media to date have been pure fun and certainly experiments in “what if…” However I believe that social media should have a shelf life of more than a nano second and more than fleeting value to organizations and individuals. Social media has forever changed the way this world communicates and we want to bring you leading applications, healthy discussions and have you help us define the good, bad and ugly of social media. In our offices, social media best practices start with find, listen, engage and lead. Find where people are talking about the issues of greatest relevance, listen to what’s being said in the various communities, then and only then, engage and lead people in a particular direction and that’s what we intend to do.

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Image by Patrick Haney

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