Michael Foster

For many advertisers, social media is a powerful tool to push brand message to a large audience at little cost. For content creators, the opportunities to take advantage of multiple platforms to push a brand have made social media an exciting new addition to an advertising mix. Thus carmakers will encourage consumers to Tweet with their hashtag and local restaurants will give discounts to people who friend them on Facebook. The idea behind this type of social media campaign is simple: build a following online so you have yet another channel to send your message through and build an online presence to give you more clout to reach potential, untapped consumers.

Two recent studies on social media point to the risks of these platforms for brands and companies. According to a study by Altimeter, a research firm, a majority of businesses saw social media as a significant source of reputation risk. According to the study, 66 percent of surveyed businesses acknowledged the risk that social media held for brands, and slightly over 56 percent of businesses regularly assessed the risk of social media.

Deloitte, a consultancy firm, has regularly followed the risks social media plays to company's brands since 2007. According to Deloitte's study, the risk that social media posed to brands was increasing but companies were not focusing sufficiently on the risks in their public relations and customer service management strategies.

At this year's ad:tech, RHW Media founder Erika Napoletano will lead "Social Commerce: How to Grow Sales, Increase Loyalty & Improve Customer Service," where marketers will learn the ins and outs of customer acquisition and retention by keeping customers happy and addressing customer service issues before they become a PR disaster. The session will help marketers understand what social media tools and strategies can help maximize the efficacy of responding to customer concerns before social media becomes an enemy instead of the friend it should be.

For those just starting out with social media marketing, the "Social Marketing Crash Course: Innovative Ways to Listen, Engage and Add Value for Your Brand" will teach marketers how other social media campaigns have thrived by contributing real value to an overall digital and offline campaign. Speakers Lisa Kolodny of iVillage, Mari Luangrath of Foiled Cupcakes and Frank Eliason of Citi will discuss how marketers can become brand ambassadors and use social media platforms to enrich their customers' brand experience.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out allvoices.com/adtech for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech New York event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.