31 Jul Protecting your brand from social media risks
Social media is now the dominant force in a companies’ marketing tool kit. It’s the most important weapon in the fight for brand awareness. It’s changed the interface in which businesses interact with their customers and evolved the relationship of customer and creator. A recent study showed that only 24% of businesses have zero online presence, with over 90% using Facebook. So it’s no wonder that there are social media risks that businesses must be aware of.
The benefits of using social media platforms are clear to see. As it allows companies to interact with their customers on a more personal level. It’s also eliminated the process of contact for the customer. By offering them various pages they can visit and interact with easily from anywhere. Marketing directly to your target market is possibly the biggest benefit of social media. As most users on both Twitter and Facebook will either like or follow your page because they like your brand. And it allows those that are not aware of your brand to become aware of it.
You’re cutting out all of the things in between and directly delivering content that is of interest to the people who follow your tweets/updates. This is heightened because the content is potentially shared on the timelines of your target market and is viewable to an audience of over 1.94 billion active monthly users on Facebook and 328 million active monthly users on Twitter. This used to be impossible to reach without spending a vast amount of money, but with the beauty of social media, you can reach that audience at the click of a button.
It must be noted that when using social media, you can be subject to open criticism and unprofessional behaviour. As having the ability to openly express your opinions on these platforms can be dangerous. As the posts can be controlled by someone inside your company and unless directed they could share their own personal opinions on matters that could affect your companies audience and image. It brings forward a series of challenges for employers to monitor their staff’s activities on platforms to prevent any company taboo. The following factors are how you can avoid any social media risks.
Developing a social media policy and training your staff
Employers should consider implementing a policy for their company and its staff on the acceptable use of social media in and out of the workplace. It should cover both the companies’ online image and that of their employees. As inappropriate content should not be tolerated. Risks will vary depending on your business and its industry but it’s always good to consider reviewing your policies every 3-6 months to keep them fresh and fair.
Once these guidelines and policies have been produced, getting them out to your employees is key. Communication with your own staff is vital to prevent situations arising that could cause harm to either party. Training staff on their use of social media is a good idea, especially social media page administrators. As they deal with the users, are the first line of support and introduction to your online brand.
Monitoring user generated content
Content on your social media page made by users can be seen as liable to your company throughout Australia, says the Australian advertising watchdog. A ruling was introduced that can pin comments and content made by users on brand pages to that of the company.
Whilst it’s still only applicable in Australia, it’s always good practice to monitor and remove harmful content in case anything gets introduced within your country. Also having a page full of spam isn’t going to appeal to a potential customer. Thus, ensure your page is clean, relevant and topical.
Dealing with customer complaints carefully
Whilst being vigilant about posted content is key, also monitoring the way you interact and speak with customers is a matter of immeasurable importance. Failing to do so can lead to an incredibly bad reputation and negative customer feedback. Many brands use their social media pages to interact directly with the audience. Which can often be dealing with FAQs and customer complaints and they can easily leave themselves in hot water. Some companies have been known to delete customer posts simply because they’re seen as negative, something which can raise potential advertising law concerns. We’ve even seen admins openly arguing with their audience in heated discussions which opens up the barriers to criticism, ridicule, lack of professionalism and negativity from potential new customers
We’re all human and we understand that anger can prevail in the most inappropriate of times but responding aggressively to a customer complaint cannot be justified. Making this clear to employees is vital in limiting any chance of this happening. Having a measured response to the customer is the best way to deal with any given situation. This is along with informing the user what you can do/what you’ve done to address and resolve their problem. It boosts your image as a brand when you can prove to audience that you can deal with complaints efficiently and level headed. Given the situation cannot be resolved, offering the customer an external way of contact and support is the best option, avoiding unnecessarily dragging out the situation on your platforms for everyone to see. Take note from Tesco, as shown in the screenshot below.
You must also acknowledge that the promotion/competition is in no way associated with Facebook unless stated. With Twitter you mustn’t encourage users to create multiple accounts to increase their chances of winning. Doing so will result in account deletion.
Monitoring use of your brand and fake users and pages
Brand owners should be vigilant of the generic use of their brand by social media users. Facebook gives users the functionality of making pages at their own free will. This runs the risk of affecting your brand. As the content isn’t being monitored and it lies in the hands of a generic user. Failure to monitor your brand on social media could tarnish your trademarks and make them lose their aura.
Keeping an eye on infringers on social media sites is important. As they pose a potential threat when using fake pages and usernames. Coca Cola’s Facebook page was originally made by two fans because they loved the brand. This may cause no harm the brand but it can still infringe on intellectual property rights, which can be dangerous. Facebook and Twitter will often take down infringing content but monitoring pages anyway is advised.
If a social media network refuses to take down a fake page or username, legal action and advice is available.