Reduce risks associated with social media

Brands looking to make their mark within the social media sphere need to be aware of the potential pitfalls.

Brands looking to make their mark within the social media sphere need to be aware of the potential pitfalls and problems which may be encountered through attempted outreach to fans through such a medium. On the surface social media may appear a ‘free’ and easy means of which to attract a plethora of online fans, but in reality it can be just as easy to alienate as many as you attract.

As a result, the need for brands to maintain a strong strategy is paramount. Social media offers a superb platform and opportunity to reach out to huge and as yet untapped audiences, but venturing into the domain of social outreach is not devoid of risk and without correct strategic management and adherence to some fundamental rules, brands could well end up doing more harm than good – resulting in the loss of customers.

One of the key risks associated with social media is the potential to alienate a once loyal fan base through ambitious acquisition strategies.

Through attempting to attract a large number of new fans to a fan page, many brands run the risk of forgetting about what created that platform in the first case – their core fans. More often than not, these ambitious acquisition plans require a broadening of a brand’s core messages in order to reach a wider and more diverse audience, however, it is essential that brands recognise the need to keep providing for their core fan base to ensure their growing platform is built on solid, rather than discontented foundations. If executed appropriately, loyalty and diversity can go hand in hand.

Indeed, recognising the need and method to communicate to a diverse audience is central to a successful strategy. Fans interact in different ways across different networks, and as such have different preferences as to how they wish to be contacted or to how they interact with their favoured brands. Brands need to therefore monitor their fans and the manner in which they interact, not only with the given company but also with their competitors, and plan for the future thereafter. Brands can’t expect to use each social platform in the same manner, and must instead vary their forms of communications to reap the most success from their social outreach strategy. Ultimately, it’s about understanding what is appropriate to say, when it is appropriate to say it and the tone in which it is delivered – like any relationship, communication is key to success.

Furthermore, a brand must control the means by which content is shared across the different brand pages. Of course a brand wants to convey a more personal persona through its online profile to its fans, which is easily achievable through allowing employees to post across the different networks. But without proper regulation and training before a granting a mandate for employee social outreach, brands risk employees communicating the wrong message, in the wrong way, or to the wrong people – and ultimately, impacting platform growth and fan engagement.

Certainly, the end goal is to have an aligned and on-message army of effective employee communicators to help push brand messages across diverse platforms, but not without careful management and regulation, particularly at the outset.

Whilst ultimately, the widespread enthusiasm for brands to embrace the social space and grow successful and engaging platforms is to be applauded, it is not without risk – and to key to building a successful and ultimately commercially viable platform requires careful thought, management, strategy, risk management, and adherence to some very fundamental house rules.

By Calum Brannan, CTO of CrowdControlHQ

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