As important as it is to develop your company’s brand using Facebook and other social media outlets, it is equally (or perhaps more!) important to protect that hard earned brand. All of the benefits of social media marketing – it’s fun, it’s free, it’s instant, it’s easy – can become detriments if you are not meticulous about how you use social media to build your brand and the policies you put in place to monitor and maintain your social media interactions.
Unfortunately, one negative Facebook situation that goes viral can undo all of the positive momentum you have worked so hard to build. Not surprisingly, the tighter you run your ship, both in-house and externally, the less frequently you will find yourself grabbing for the bail out bucket.
Here are some real life examples of how negative social media activity was able to do considerable damage to a company’s, or organization’s, reputation and how you can work to prevent these gaffes on your business’s Facebook page.
Moral #1 – Have a social media marketing strategy in place, as well as a written policy about how it will be used in both the good times and the bad.
Example: Domino’s Pizza Food Defacing and the Viral Youtube Video…No Facebook page or Twitter Account = no quick way to handle the situation.
In 2009, Domino’s pizza’s brand took a nosedive after two employees posted horrifying YouTube videos showing them defacing food and other items in the kitchen. This was a worst-case scenario for a nationally recognized brand. Polls showed that consumer trust plummeted immediately following the video’s posting. However, at the time, Domino’s had no social media platforms in place, which made their recovery that much more difficult. It wasn’t until after the fiasco ensued that they established their Facebook and Twitter account.
This is a prime example of how you don’t want to learn about social media and how to use it. If your business doesn’t have a social media marketing strategy in place, you have no way to respond quickly and efficiently should the need arise. Learn how to use social media effectively, and then create clear, well-written social media policies for employees and contractors who are developing/managing your social media for you.
Moral #2 – Understand that fake Facebook profiles can be created to intentionally bring down your brand, and there might be nothing you can do to remove them.
Example: A fake Facebook profile of SacFit’s owner/director, Kenneth Press, created by a disgruntled former employee.
Kenneth Press was shocked to learn a disgruntled former employee created a fake Facebook profile, posing as Kenneth Press himself, and was using it to communicate untruths to the SacFit community in an attempt to break it apart and discourage new members. After an extensive and expensive effort, using a computer forensics expert to trace the ID of the fake poster, Press and the rest of the SacFit community has had to work hard to communicate what happened, and maintain a positive image. To date, Facebook has failed to remove the fake profile.
This could happen to you and/or your business. Are you prepared? How will you and/or your staff handle the situation if your brand is hijacked or sabotaged by a disgruntled employee or dissatisfied customer. Make sure your social media policy includes how your company will deal with a potential fake, or other brand sabotaging scenarios, in order to diffuse the situation and put your customers at ease.
Moral #3 – Handle customer/client complaints or negative Facebook posts quickly, consistently and effectively.
Example: Nestle’s inability to professionally monitor/respond to disgruntled and offended fans.
In 2010, Nestle (the chocolate company) requested that their fans not use the company’s logo, or modified versions of it, for their profile picture. They further instructed that fans who continued to do so would have their comments deleted from the Nestle fan page. What ensued was a series of comments from wounded and offended fans, and unprofessional – dare we say, “immature?” – responses from Nestle. It was a lesson/reminder to never ever go on the offensive with customers, especially on your Facebook or other social media forum.
The responses appear immature, antagonistic, and petty, which does absolutely nothing to enhance your brand. Your responses should be consistently toned – whether you are responding to positive or negative posts – and if an issue continues to escalate, it should be handled away from the social media forum if necessary.
The Bottom Line: Social media platforms can be your greatest ally in terms of building your brand, and de-escalating a negative situation, but they can also be your worst enemy if your company does not have a solid social media policy in place, and monitor your social media sites on a regular basis. When you follow the Golden Rules of social media, you will be able to keep your brand safe on Facebook.