With more and more companies now integrating social media activities and engagement as part their overall marketing and PR strategy, it is important that as part of this strategy brands also focus upon the importance of effectively managing and monitoring the potential risks involved. Due to the sheer growth in conversations and user-generated content, by its very nature social media leaves brands and users open to a number of risks as well as opportunities. As a result, the need to be proactive, identify possible risks ahead of time and develop an appropriate social media monitoring platform and process is key. Additionally, the integration of an effective internal management platform is also important, to ensure user access to accounts is coordinated and utilised in the right way, clearly communicating social media guidelines and allocating resources within the organization more efficiently. In light of this, below are three ways that companies can approach managing social media engagement and risk in the social media sphere.
The importance of managing multiple social media profiles - With an increasing number of brands now setting up multiple profiles across a wide range of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare and LinkedIn, the benefits of utilising additional networks to increase brand awareness and improve customer relationships are clear to see. However, simply dipping in and out of each social media channel with ad-hoc posts and activities is something that companies really should avoid, as the lack of structure and monitoring of conversations in this way leaves companies particularly open to a number of risks. For example, by spreading conversations out across multiple social channels, it is easy for companies to quickly loose track of what is being said about their brand. It is also often difficult to keep track of which profiles have been updated and if videos and content have uploaded correctly.
Although broadening reach across different social media channels and becoming actively engaged with various conversations is key to reaching a wider audience, brands also need to be proactive in the way they identify the possible risks involved when moving into new social media areas, taking the time to put a strategy in place that will enable them to manage multiple accounts, audiences and conversations. Two interesting examples of this are Sony and Adidas. Two global brands, both of which have multiple, highly engaging Facebook accounts, both of which have millions of Facebook fans across a wide range of global and localised pages including: Adidas Originals, Adidas Running, Adidas Football, Sony Music, Sony Ericsson, and Sony Pictures to name a few. In many ways, the wider the brand's social media reach, the higher the need to balance the benefits and risks of social media engagement in order to effectively protect the social media perception and reputation of the brand.
Social media monitoring tools - A fantastic example that I came across recently is the web-based social media management software available via CrowdControlHQ, which not only enables users to effectively monitor and manage the conversations and engagement taking place around their brand but also allows them to co-ordinate social media strategy and activity across multiple platforms. In doing this, brands are able to identify possible risks and opportunities and be proactive rather than reactive in their approach. Additionally, there is also a feature within the CrowdControlHQ software that allows users to identify the key influencers and individuals engaging with and talking about their brand. By being aware of conversations and individuals that are having a positive impact as well as a negative impact on the brand, companies are better placed to be able to respond in the right way and make the most of their activities.
Be proactive: respond quickly and effectively when issues emerge - The speed at which things happen in the social space is something that all companies need to be fully aware of when putting their social media strategies in place. For example, if a mistake or negative comment is made and not picked up on, the speed at which this can be shared across a multitude of social media channels and communicated to a brand's target audience is phenomenal. As a result, if companies are unable to properly monitor the conversations and social media activities around their brand, the damage that can be done to the reputation and perception of the brand is something that should not be over-looked.
In many ways, brands are also responsible for protecting the users of their Facebook Pages and Twitter feeds, ensuring that offensive or derogative posts are handled quickly and appropriately. A good example of a company that is doing this very well can be seen with the Cadbury's Crème Egg page - a page that is accessed as much by a younger audience as it is by adults. As a result, the brand has a responsibility to ensure its younger audience is protected. Cadbury's have certainly done an excellent job so far, in encouraging user-generated content and monitoring this in a way that posts and Tweets are always kept appropriate, engaging, and on-brand.
In many ways, if the right process is not already in place, social media can often magnify problems and errors, leading to an even bigger problem to solve in managing and controlling the issue with relation to how it reflects upon the perception of the brand.
As more and more companies continue to increase their focus upon utilising social media to raise brand awareness, visibility and complement other PR and marketing activities, the need for companies to focus upon putting the right social media management and monitoring processes in place is vital. By ensuring an effective and proactive strategy is in place, companies will be better positioned to respond when issues arise in order to maintain and protect the positive image and perception of the brand.