The scariest risk in corporate life is . . .

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Check this out: According to a Deloitte survey of 300 C-level executives, board members and risk executives globally, the highest ranking fear factor for the future of their businesses was the disruptive effect of social media.

“Which of the following technology enablers and/or disruptors do you believe may threaten your business model?”

 Social media  47%

Data mining and analytics  44%

Mobile applications  40%

Cloud computing  38%

Cyber attacks  36%

All of the surveyed companies have annual revenues of US$1 billion or equivalent, so that’s the first clue to these results: the bigger the company, the less perceived ability to control social.  By contrast, other items on the list look more “controllable” through technology, safeguards, processes and the like.  But who can control what someone else wants to say about you, to the entire Internet, after business hours?

It’s been said for some time that corporate culture is the ultimate differentiator, the ultimate brand and the ultimate driver of customer loyalty.  Social is where the rubber meets the road on this point.  Social goes well when all of the other important things are going well: fence line communities feel respected, analysts and shareholders experience transparency, employees are treated like human beings, customers feel valued.  When the fundamentals are in place, you have a healthy organism that can fight off small problems or pop-up perceptions.

If the fundamentals are flawed, no risk management strategy can save you.

This is why big businesses may have more to fear; with larger organizations and multiple moving parts, they aren’t even sure where all the ducks are, never mind getting them to queue up.

The old corporate responsibility mantra of “doing well by doing good” means more now than ever.  There are ranks and ranks of communicators inside and outside your business who are more than willing to opine on what they see.  Social gives them a megaphone; what you need to give them is a great experience engaging with you.

Internal communications functions do their most important work when they both create and serve as two-way channels between employees and management.  The better an organization really knows itself, the easier to make meaningful change and improvement.

When was the last time you did an organizational audit of your two-way communications effectiveness?

Image courtesy of hyena reality / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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