Social media – a double edged weapon?

Nowadays, there is no doubt that a popular brand has to have some kind of social media presence. But along the stories of great success, we can also hear about bad solutions from time to time. And these mistakes could easily ruin a company’s whole image.

Facebook, Twitter and many others are excellent tools that help a brand reach its customer directly. Entering people’s private circle, it supports the establishment of much stronger attachments and experiences, but – because of the nature of this intimate relationship – more careful attention has to be paid. Those brands that use no social media at all miss to benefit from quite of a cost-effective and profitable form of marketing solutions. But if a brand decides to communicate through this platform it has to be fully aware of the rules of this virtual world otherwise its presence could easily make customers dangerously angry.

According to recent studies the rate of online content consumption is almost equivalent with the rate of TV-usage and internet will take first place in the near future. That’s why so many brands try to properly position themselves, quite often at considerable costs. The number of experts on the market is continuously growing and even traditional advertising agencies are forced to establish their new divisions to meet their client’s online need and demand. However, it takes a long time until the know-how develops. In the rapidly evolving world of internet, only a few months enough for a popular website to lose its visitors and a well-functional service could easily became unpopular in the same amount of time. So being innovative and prudent are the keys for brands to achieve their goals.

One has to be particularly professional and remain well tempered in direct communication such as Facebook or Twitter. These channels offer great possibilities to build up a strong and positive brand image, but by using it malfunctioning can also demolish it. That really makes the difficulty is that while the company has to follow a complex policy and focus on its brand’s interest, at the other end of the table the internet users are completely free to share their opinions about everything and in every form. Consequently, it is a prior need for a brand to remain ‘cold-headed’ when using this platform and any complaints – even if they aren’t rightful – should be managed with respect. Unanswered, deleted or off-handed comments could start an avalanche. The best thing to do is to stay diplomatic, and hold on, until the storm calms down.

Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro in Arizona, USA definitely didn’t do this. The fact that star chef, Gordon Ramsey brought down the restaurant in his show ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ made the owners started a ‘war’ on the internet against the users trying to defend their bad business policy. With this they committed every single error you could make in social media: aggressiveness, personalities, constant reiteration of your own viewpoint. This only resulted in a dramatic and inevitable outcome and they were being burnt in the crossfire of social media precipitating the company into a hopeless situation.

The credibility of a brand however could fail not only because of badly treated complaints. Sometimes a bad marketing decision or an upset colleague can cause serious business damages. It’s never a good idea to make fun of the customer’s religious, political or sexual views or with tragic events. And perhaps there is also a reason why ‘insulted’ marketing employees or creative staff do not get billboards to express their hard feelings and problems. Additionally, in social media everything is faster, our comments and views are spreading worldwide by only a single click. Therefore the control is less, so here we have to stick to the classic rule even more: count to 10... before you’d press the Share button…