Social media offers incredible power to engage stakeholders, but also gives exposure to those who don’t agree with you or seek change. Companies must never be dissuaded from engagement with all audiences. We all increasingly work with millennials who are ushering in what Harvard Business Review recently called “a new power environment.” This means companies now face stakeholders seeking to be much more participatory. They’re looking to co-create content. They seek brands to engage with them. The question about whether or not to engage is moot. The real question is how do you engage effectively?

Proportionality of response is a key consideration. Some companies will over-respond, which can increase visibility for an issue more than it should. Others will under-respond and miss that critical window to reassure their stakeholders with some simple information that could have neutralized the issue.

We must help companies recognize the tipping point. That will help guide response proportionality. There is always some chatter and a tipping point where the issues start to escalate into mass media. And with the Internet, issues are visible forever, to a degree. Analytics, historic baselines and other indicators help us get a sense of where that tipping point is. It’s crucial to engage at that point because it might help neutralize an escalating issue before it reaches crisis level.