The Danger of Social Media

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There is no doubt about it – social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are powerful, interactive marketing channels and offer an efficient, convenient way of reaching your customers and followers. But beware; when something goes wrong with your social media communications, the damage is instant and it can hit the national press within hours…

In a recent example, a Vodafone staff member made a huge error by releasing an extremely offensive tweet from the Vodafone twitter account. Details of the offensive remark can be viewed by clicking here. Whilst Vodafone apologised immediately for a “severe breach of rules by staff in our building” the damage had already been done. With over ten thousand followers, the message was well and truly in the public domain and it had been widely reposted and retweeted within seconds.

Before Vodafone’s incident, Habitat also had issues with their Twitter marketing. An over enthusiastic intern added inappropriate hash tags to the company’s marketing messages in an attempt to increase the number of views. These included hash tags relating to political unrest in Iran, which was of concern to many people at the time. This resulted in a Habitat message asking people to sign up to receive their marketing emails being shown when people were trying to view news and comments about the latest developments in Iran. The back lash from the Twitter community was instant and extremely critical and this mistake has damaged Habitat’s reputation and received wide publicity in the mainstream press.

It is not just companies that have experienced problems with social media. Recently, a hacker sent the following message from Ed Milliband’s twitter account to over 6,600 followers: “Hhey, I have been having better sex and longer with this here”. The tweet then displayed a link to another website. In this case, it was clear that the Mr Milliband’s Twitter account had fallen victim to a phishing scam and whilst the message initially surprised many followers, it did not do any long term damage.

To ensure your social media activity does not suffer, follow the below guidelines:

  • Employ a professional or outsource your social media activity to a reputable agency.
  • If you do manage it in house, do not hand over complete responsibility to a junior member of the team.
  • Ensure the person who is running your social media is fully trained in your brand language and values and that they fully understand the impact of getting it wrong.
  • If you use tools like tweet deck, never manage your personal and business account through the same tool or account.
  • Do not give too many people within your business login details to your account.
  • If something does go wrong, do not offer excuses, simply apologise immediately.
  • Marketing through social networks is an essential part of your communications strategy but ensure you correctly manage / enforce use of your company account to avoid disaster!

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