10 Social Media Risks

Great article shared on LinkedIn by my friend BrianMcDonald about the 10 social media risks most companies are too afraid to take….but there are some that do and for a smart few, the risks pay off.

Probably the best lesson to learn here is how to innovate in a “boring” industry. When I went to UNC for Advertising, that was always their advice to us when we had to think of portfolio ideas or topics for copywriting classes: focus on products that are un-sexy and currently unappealing. Those are the areas to make big money in, especially when it comes to B2B. But just look at how P&G’s fantastic relation with Wieden & Kennedy allowed them to take Old Spice and run with it to totally dominate marketing in the deodorant industry. Another example is the Dollar Shave Club:

So if you’re just beginning to manage a brand, I’d totally push for suggestions: 1, 2 and 4 (although: be super careful with joking if the brand is related to the pharma industry, or anything to do with the government)

But not all of this advice is sound, especially for people just dipping their toes into social media marketing. I’m looking at you, company who has elected to put your entire marketing brand in the hands of an unpaid college student intern. Taking a stance on a controversial issue? Sure, that got Chick-fil-A a lot of anti-gay business one week. And the article points out that taking a stance for Oreo probably won’t “have a big impact on their bottom line.” But things like that, showing up on a social media channel when there’s no use, posting irrelevant comment – these are strategies and tactics not recommended for everyone. And they have to be done carefully and with a lot of thought about the approach and potential reactions.

If you’re just starting out – learn from these examples but I wouldn’t suggest going for them just yet yourself. Unless you have a client or boss who trusts you 100% and you’re willing to take responsibility for the backlash. Like Sweden does for handing out access to its Twitter account. And all of the companies that “open the fan floodgates” and “let employees get social for the company” then suffer the consequences. Crowdsourcing isn’t always a win, to say the least (especially if 4chan or Reddit gets wind of the promotion).

My biggest rule for any brand I’ve managed on social media: when in doubt, cut it out. It’s typically best to err on the side of caution, lest you end up like one of these guys. Some of these risks are considered risks for a reason as brands with decades of solid reputation management can be unraveled overnight thanks to the Internet.

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