Risk and resilience: The duality of digital chatter
Like two sides of the same coin, digital chatter is a vehicle for certain groups to intentionally or unintentionally harm a brand, and also a vital source of intelligence for communications leaders to stay ahead of issues and mitigate crises.
As the term implies, digital chatter is the summation of conversations happening online that take place across the surface and deep web. It includes open or indexed and closed or dark social media channels as well as forums and messaging apps.
In our previous blog post: Today’s Forecast: Uncertainty With a Chance of Resiliency, we explored the ways in which communications leaders are expanding their role as risk mitigators and resilience builders. Now we turn our attention to how digital chatter can better inform risk communications and enhance resilience efforts.
First, the bad news.
The window of time has shortened for organizations to respond or react to risks
This was a key finding from our recent Communications Leaders Risk Survey, conducted in partnership with Kroll, which asked 100 leading communicators what they see on the risk horizon and how they’re adapting to it.
Of those surveyed, 94% agreed that digital chatter has dramatically reduced the time available to assess an issue—let alone determine if the commentary warrants immediate action.
Consider this: As of October 2020, the number of people using social media was more than 4.14 billion, or more than half the world’s population. Every minute of every day, millions of pieces of content are shared online. And, the global average for social media accounts is 8.8 per person.
Much of this activity is happening on the surface web (also called the visible web or indexed web) which represents just 4% of internet engagement. The deep web, which is closed to search engines and traditional monitoring tools, is 500 times larger than the surface web.
In other words, the volume, velocity and variety of digital chatter is compounding by the minute, and not everyone online has your brand’s best interests at heart.
A growing blind spot exploited by bad actors and agenda-driven groups
Our survey went on to uncover an emerging blind spot, with respondents saying their organizations monitor, on average, only 6.4 social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn. Very few respondents said they monitored closed social media channels or forums, messenger apps or alt tech platforms.
Yet, this is where the earliest signals of an impending risk often originate as bad actor, activist, agenda-driven and interest groups first coordinate on these closed channels, moving through transient digital platforms to get to their targets. Each group is dynamic, using digital chatter in different ways, and continuously evolving their tactics and tradecraft. Unfortunately, for every organization that isn’t monitoring these movements, there is an agenda-driven group or bad actor eager to exploit this blind spot.
A silver lining and strategic advantage
Despite the challenges digital chatter creates for organizations, a growing number of communications leaders are recognizing that this same digital chatter can offer a strategic advantage as a vital source of risk intelligence.
Of the communications leaders surveyed, 88% agree that digital chatter is an essential source of risk intelligence for identifying or mitigating issues before they become a crisis.
A risk intelligence capability gives communications leaders a way to assess the “sparks” of an incident when they first appear online—before certain individuals or groups begin to “fan the flames” by sharing it more widely, and well before it becomes an impending crisis.
Much like assessing a tree falling in the forest and whether or not others will hear it, by identifying that spark early enough, communications teams have the extra time to evaluate each situation with actionable intelligence, giving them an early-warning risk advantage.
Will others hear the tree falling? The early signals found in digital chatter can deliver additional days, if not weeks, to answer that question—valuable time to mitigate a risk or better prepare to minimize the damage when it becomes a reality.
The value of partnering with an experienced leader
As noted in our report, communications leaders are adapting a new enterprise mindset to the accelerating world of risk, but more than two thirds of those surveyed (69%) said it’s getting more difficult to anticipate or identify risks surfacing through digital chatter.
When an organization is unable to acclimate to this new world of new risks, it can turn to a risk intelligence partner. Crisp is a fully managed early-warning risk intelligence service combining AI with human intelligence. This unique formula analyzes millions of digital conversations in real time, revealing hidden relationships between individuals and their groups to predict potential impacts as early as possible.
Our AI technology has been trained for over 15 years, and is uniquely modeled around the risks posed to today’s global organizations. When coupled with the deep industry expertise of our analysts, Crisp provides intelligence on the agendas, tradecraft and interplay of individuals and groups that threaten brands. We also deliver enterprise-grade protection against corporate or public safety incidents created by security threats to assets or to the safety and well-being of employees, brand VIPs and the public.
Today Crisp defends $6.5 trillion in combined market capitalization for over 100 brands. We can protect yours too. Learn more about Crisp Corporate Risk Intelligence here.
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