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Social Media: Be savvy, not shamed.
Courtesy of Imgflip
Courtesy of Imgflip  

Gone are the days when the brand with the biggest media budget and best ad placement could easily outshine the competition. Social media has changed the paradigm, enabling marketers to engage consumers and prospects virtually anytime, anywhere – for free. Now, it’s a battle of the brands to be the savviest, the fastest and the most prevalent. But, just like in any competition, even the smallest mistake can cause a huge setback. In the socialsphere, the stakes are higher – in just mere seconds, an inappropriate tweet or post can reach thousands, even millions, and do serious damage.

So many businesses use social media, and use it well. It’s not often that we hear about a brand’s social slip-up, but it does happen. Even some of the world’s biggest brands have fallen victim to them. In most cases unintentional user error has been to blame, but in others, it was just bad (or really bad) judgment.

The fact is, businesses place their trust in individuals, their employees, to represent them on social media. It’s a necessary evil. But there are things that can be done and tools that can be used to help marketers make their social media fail-proof(-ish).

Social Schooling
Coach employees on how to appropriately convey the voice of the brand. And, while it might seem like a no-brainer, the importance of using good judgment when posting on the company’s and their own behalf, as well as exercising caution when switching between work and personal accounts, should be underscored (just ask The American Red Cross).

Think Before You Tweet
Before putting out any messaging – regardless of the medium – it’s crucial to anticipate how a competitor (or anybody) could potentially use it against the brand. This is exponentially important on social media. Before using a hashtag, find out if and how it’s already being used. And, anticipate and plan for potential retaliation. If there’s a good chance that your hashtag could be exploited to expose negative opinions, it’s probably not worth putting it out there (even though sometimes it’s unpredictable…poor #RonaldMcDonald).

Safeguard with Software
Social media management platforms like Hootsuite or TweetDeck not only make it easy to manage multiple accounts, but they offer tools to help avoid social shame. Variable permission levels can be implemented so that some employees have draft-only access and others with full permission, perhaps more senior employees, can vet any posts before publishing them.

Automatic filtering technology is great for weeding out offensive material, whether it was posted by an employee or an outsider. When images, keywords or websites that meet pre-determined criteria end up on a social stream, they’re automatically pulled down. There’s even social analytics software that will send an alert when any unusual spikes in activity occur on a social page. It won’t erase any damage that has already been done, but can help to prevent incidents from getting too out of hand.

Turn Opposition into Opportunity
An unfortunate social situation doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) do permanent damage. In fact, if handled properly, it can have positive effects on a brand. Never hide from or defend the mishap, but rather address it in a respectful way, and use it as an opportunity to shed light on the morals and values behind the company. Sometimes, even a little humor can help smooth over a sticky situation (well played, Red Cross). Always remember, there’s no such thing as bad publicity…as long as it’s managed well.

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