Scared of Social Media?

Used correctly and to its full advantage, social media is something to be embraced by a business. 37.4 million UK adults use Facebook regularly, 15.5 million UK adults are on Twitter and 7.9 million of them use LinkedIn. The amount of people that can be reached for a relatively small cost cannot be anything other than good news, and the benefits can be fruitful.

However, with more and more stories hitting the press of social media failings where companies are left a little red faced, businesses are starting to become afraid of social media channels. When FERMA (Federation of European Risk Management Associations ) surveyed executives about their concerns in the digital space, they found that the main fears surrounded potential damage to companies reputations. Michel Dennery, a vice president at FERMA said “Companies have to learn how to live in this new environment where information is available immediately anywhere, where private and professional life is merging, and where the balance of authority is shifting”.

It is easy to see why some businesses may be worried. Stories of social media bloopers are widely publicised but don’t forget the success stories are out there which just don’t make as gripping a headline…. Take the Telegraph and its website’s live Twitter stream for example. One of their correspondents had a row over the news-desks amendment of his story on the Libyan government working with Western governments, which very publicly spilled onto Twitter. Journalist Rob Crilly’s tweets got progressively more irate until he posted a tweet that hit the headlines: “Neville Dean is a ****”. Public disputes between colleagues via Twitter are never good for a large newspaper, but what made this one extra special was that the Telegraph had decided to open up its newsroom by having a live feed from its Twitter account streamed onto its website. Lesson one: don’t make a feature out of something you can’t control.

For lesson two, let’s turn to the company Chapstick. The company posted on Facebook a picture of an advertising campaign featuring an image of a young woman searching for a Chapstick down the side of the sofa with her rear in the air. The image caused offense to some who posted comments about the advert being sexist on the company Facebook page. Instead of responding to the negative feedback, Chapstick panicked and did exactly what they shouldn’t do – deleted the negative comments. This certainly didn’t sooth the already sore lips of its customers and resulted in even more outrage at their opinions being disregarded. Chapstick did then follow up with an online apology but the damage had been done. For more social media nightmares take a look here – but don’t let these put you off!

If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon it can appear daunting and confusing but a business cannot afford to let the opportunity roll by. Social media is here to stay. The best thing is to make sure you are fully prepared. Get to know the social media channel that’s right for you and draft processes and guidelines to help staff use social media and manage a crisis (before it happens!). Don’t forget our Bluewood Training social media course can help….. Drop us an email or tweet for further information.

Written by Megan – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – November 2011

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