Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Social media mistakes you don't want to make

Social media is everywhere. Any web page you visit will almost certainly encourage you to tweet, like or pin its content. Companies are creating brand new forms of advertising to cater for the social media networks. Engagement with social media is at an all time high and even countries that have banned certain sites like Facebook are showing massive growth.

Businesses are rapidly finding out that social media can mean increased brand awareness, growth of their client base and relatively low cost yet effective marketing. Clever companies have used social media to launch viral videos, competitions and stunts, driving up their popularity. 

There are however, some risks when you introduce social media to your business strategy. A single misstep or innocent blunder can render your brand a laughing stock. So before you dip a toe into social media as a business, read the tips below...

3) Check, check and check again
One of the most attractive parts of social media is the ease of use. Type a short, pithy comment about your business, possibly with a picture attached, click one button and voila! The latest piece of marketing gold has been launched into the twittersphere. The disadvantage of this, however, is that a few moments of not concentrating, a moment of bad judgement and you have launched something that will cripple your reputation and never, ever be lost, because once information is on the world wide web, it is never lost.

Enter American firm KitchenAid, who allowed an astonishingly bad taste joke about the president's deceased relative to find its way onto their twitter feed. A quick fire round of retweets later and the company was in hot water, with many public apologies and hurried denunciations made over the following days. The damage was done however, and despite the company deleting the tweet almost immediately, echos of it will be floating online as a cautionary tale long into the future.


2) You hold your company's reputation in your hands
If you've been in marketing for more than five minutes, you'll know that reputation is everything for a brand. Without a rock solid reputation for honesty, good choices and quality, growing a business is nearly impossible. Throughout your marketing you will have been developing your company's image. Badly thought through social media campaigns can turn all that to ash in a surprisingly short amount of time.

So it was for The Redner Group, who oversaw the launch of much loved shooter Duke Nukem's long awaited new release, 'Duke Nukem Forever'. The PR section posted a public statement on twitter that appeared to threaten to withhold new review copies of titles from outlets who gave the game a poor review. The backlash from fans, reviewers and the larger industry was deafening, leaving the company's reputation for fairness in tatters. 

1) You may loose more than you think
Social media mistakes can have wide reaching consequences. A slip up (or gross stupidity) may cost you money, time and possibly your job. Worst cases may even result in legal consequences. Again, this often comes as a result of impulsive posting behaviour, but in some cases what may appear a silly, harmless prank can lead to disaster when they hit the public forum.

Two employees at a New York branch of Domino's Pizza learned this the very hard way when they posted a video they filmed showing various misbehaviours at work on YouTube and the social media networks, quickly coming to the attention of their bosses. The evidence of their antics was slammed as 'disgusting', caused a major dent in Domino's reputation for hygiene and standards and swiftly led to the sacking of both the stars of the show. If that wasn't enough, both of them were brought up on legal charges for various health code violations. 

So when you embrace social media for your business, embrace also the lessons to be learned from these and the countless other similar stories on the internet. Remember, with great social media power comes great responsibility...

See also:
5 Small business secrets...
The battle of the browsers...

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