The beauty of social media lies in its potential for reach. For a business, it’s the power to reach individuals or groups that would otherwise never hear your brand name, let alone find out what your brand does. Of course with such power comes great responsibility (God bless the morals of Spiderman), and this potential reach can damage the brand more swiftly than promote it. PR teams are employed to ensure that the brand name is kept pure and in alignment with the brand’s underpinning ethos, but one mistake by a company employee with access to the company Twitter account, and the damage is often irrevocable.
Improper Use of #HashTags
An example of this would be Kmart’s Twitter campaign which publically gave their condolences for the Sandy Hook School Shooting, but then tagged along their toy giveaway promotion in a hashtag: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrible tragedy, #PrayforNewtown, #CTShooting #Fab15Toys”.
The exposure and the reach was huge partly because of the other hashtags, and the lash-back was massive as a result. It was probably just a simple mistake by the social media executive, who’d written the hashtag out of sheer habit, but the public were unforgiving and the brand reputation of Kmart suffered.
Not that all negative activity comes from a mistake. By companies owning social media accounts, they expose themselves in the vulnerable sense and are open to unprovoked attacks from the disgruntled customers or public members. These must be handled diplomatically and professionally. Mini wars between social media personnel and such a customer can be devastating, but even if the candor of your statements are beyond judgement, the damage can be sufficient and can affect the potential customers who are witnessing the ordeal over a Facebook page. The social media world is open, uncensored and brutally honest. This is the second beauty of social media that can also return some challenging consequences.
Social Media for Customer Service
Some companies have taken to actually deleting negative posts in the past, which produces the Streisand effect or is a bit like trying to make bees go away by kicking their nest. The social media account acts as a form of customer service and cannot afford to be simply a shouting platform or a cyber-banner. Where employees are ‘on show’ for the duration of their working hours, the social media accounts are on show 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, daytime and night-time. – Just one bad review on your page can put a customer off, so companies have taken the initiative to address these issues quickly & efficiently. They are quick to update their social media pages and to have constant monitoring of them. Here is an example of Lebara Mobileresponding to a negative comment on their Facebook page.
It’s this type of response that gives businesses the opportunity to express themselves to other customers of that particular service. It works in akin to the way Twitter functions, whereby customers can comment on a business’ wall and then the actual business can respond to anything either negative or positive.
In your business, how does social media benefit or afflict you? A blessing or a curse? Take a look at this infographic that’s been produced by the Employee Benefits team over at Unum and see what statistic your business belongs in.
By Dean Wilson & subbed by Jonathan Jones.