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Social Media

Risk, Mountain Biking and Social Media – Buzz2010 Recap

Last week’s Buzz2010 took on a topic that those of us riding the trails of social media naysayers always end up facing – managing risk in social media.

Inspired by the small group discussion/case study of a trade association in the extreme sports industry I came home and was motivated to go for a mountain bike ride.  As I hopped over roots and downed trees, splashed through puddles and tried not to go over the front handle bars, I was suddenly reminded of my two biggest takeaways from the day’s session.

If you don’t want to wipeout, you’ve got to keep moving.

When I’m on my bike and working my way over a bumpy trail – trying not to audition for a crash and burn video – I tell myself “keep moving or you’re gonna fall.  Point the wheel where you want to go and the bike will follow.  Don’t hit the front brakes or you’re going over the bike.”

Where does this apply to social media?  The first point made during the Buzz2010 session is that the biggest risk is not doing anything at all.   Your audiences are out there and are moving forward – with our without you.  Try to stop it or not get involved and you’re gonna have a spectacular wipeout.

Also, once you do get going make sure there’s momentum to keep you going forward.

Wendy Harman from the Red Cross mentioned how she spreads that momentum across the organization.  She spoke of how she puts together a social media update with the best mentions and sends that around the organization.  The result?  People see the efforts and the results – and the momentum going.

Know Your Limits.  What You Will and Won’t Do.

There’s a hill right where I turn onto the trail that is mongo steep.  A good friend of mine tears down it and makes it look easy.  Every time I look at it, I step off the bike and gingerly walk down.  I know my limits and what I won’t do (and that I don’t want a broken collar-bone).

Knowing your limits keeps you safe.  Same for social media.

Mark Story from the SEC tweets and blogs for one of the most regulated and tight-lipped government agencies.  Why can he do it?  He defined what we could and could not do, set his limits and has stayed within them.

It starts with creating policies and what has been referred to as “defining your sandbox.”  A few suggestions to get you started:

  • Identify what you mean by social media and where you want to be
  • Clarify who is going to create the product. Individual? Team? Or is it open to everyone?
  • What you will and won’t share
  • Who should be monitoring and reporting

Mountain biking like social media isn’t without risk.  But by defining your guidelines and maintaining momentum, it’s a good bit of fun.

And that was the last point of the Buzz2010 session.  For the most part, people want to do the right thing and they want to help others out.  It’s why we join and participate in online communities.

Maintain a positive attitude and trust in your teams, and you’ll already be on the right path to minimizing risk.

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