Says Andrew Woodger, data and planning director, The Purple Agency:
“While social media sites are a potentially powerful tool for good, they can just as easily be a powerful turn off for many consumers. Unless brands set out to engage consumers in a managed interactive environment, there is a huge risk that their social media presence will back fire. This is especially true of organisations and brands which rely on high levels of consumer goodwill or where there are potentially controversial issues which may need a high degree of ‘management’ to avoid them getting out of hand.”
The Purple Agency has created a list of factors which should ideally be considered and addressed before a company sets itself up on Facebook or any other social networking media. These include the following:
- Do have a clear strategy. Consider both the gains and the risks. How will you measure the benefits?
- Do decide how you want people to interact. Is your Facebook site a bill board or somewhere people can genuinely ‘interact’. Either might be valid, but will depend on what you want to achieve.
- Do choose who will be responsible for managing and maintaining your presence.
- Do agree in advance your policies and approach to managing negative or controversial postings. People often use sites to ‘sound off’ about issues they feel are unresolved. Make sure you are ready and able to respond quickly.
- Do make sure your customers know about your social media presence, and are invited to participate
- Don’t create a social presence which exposes you to critical comment – unless the upsides and rewards are greater than the potential damage.
- Don’t use standardised responses or those written in ‘corporate speak’. Treat people as individuals. The wrong tone of voice can send the wrong messages.
- Don’t duck issues. A little humility works better than corporate arrogance.
- Don’t scrimp on resourcing your presence. Make sure you have the back up to support your ‘social networkers’, such as customer service personnel and PR people who can deal with any prickly issues quickly and professionally.
- Don’t let wounds fester. If an uncomfortable issue gets raised deal with it one-to-one before it propagates and gets out of hand.
Says Woodger, “This is a media area which offers huge rewards in terms of building dialogue with customers and expressing your brand personality. If you get it right it can drive service improvements, new product developments, extend your brand and gain valuable ‘earned reputation’. But the downsides have to be considered carefully. You have to plan and have contingency arrangements in place to deal with issues as they emerge. Failure to do so can quickly undo all the potential benefits social media offers.”