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What are the major risks of social media, and how can we avoid them?

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Many organizations think the biggest risk of social media is that people will use it to say negative things about them. That's certainly worth addressing, but the biggest risk is actually the opposite: that your organization will create a social media presence, and nobody will participate. There's no shortage of deserted online communities out there, some of them beautifully designed and clearly very expensive. Others garner participation... but the conversations quickly veer off-topic or into belligerent shouting matches. And still others start off well, but can't sustain their momentum; some aren't ready to scale up, some encounter embarassing technical failures, and some just peter out and fade away.

So how do you avoid their fate? A compelling reason to participate... thinking about your audience before you think about your technology... staffing up to encourage participation and put out fires... and both knowing and pushing the limits of your organizational... these can all help. But nothing works quite as well as knowing social media in your bones, and that means diving in yourself.

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