Adoption of social media tools by enterprises was predicted to be exponential, and unless you have been living under a rock in the last 5 years – the popularity of social media amongst organisations is pretty much in your face. Almost every day there is a news story of an organization’s latest scandal regarding their use of social media, and us mere mortals are left to scratch our heads wondering what the big multi-million dollar businesses were thinking. Surely a well known and successful organisation would have a policy or guidelines advising what their employees can and cannot post on their Twitter and Facebook accounts regarding the company; or even how to react to disgruntled customer comments. Most organisations have social media guidelines and policies for their employees to abide by, such as Turkish Airlines.
Turkish Airlines have their own Twitter account which they use quiet often to update followers of their specials and promotions. As you scroll through, it’s easy to see that each post is professional and that all twitter tags have been monitored so only non-offensive tweets are displayed. Another example of a ‘winning’ organisation is Starbucks, who launched the My Starbucks Idea website which allows consumers to sign in and share their opinions/ideas about what Starbucks could do to improve their business. Again, the company is obviously moderating the comments that are posted on their website by consumers to ensure their image is not sabotaged and also to ensure they are at no legal risk. All successful organisations are using web 2.0 to their advantage by allowing their consumers to talk, which seems to be viral marketing by the masses! Burson-Marsteller’s Global Social Media Check-up study shows between March 2011 and March 2012, the number of tweets per day increased from 140 million to over 340 million tweets! Nobody could of achieved this kind of mass viral marketing without the use of social media tools like Twitter. It actually surprises me that only 12% of organisations in Australia use all four social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube); with 31% not using social media at all. Why are so many businesses feeling lost when it comes to implementing a social media strategy? This now leads me to the next part of my discussion – what about the more interesting cases of companies ruining their reputation from crazy social media antics?
Let’s kick off this ‘loser’ section of the discussion with the business KFC. In 2010 an Australian KFC employee went ballistic at a customer who requested bacon. The customer simply uploaded the recorded footage on YouTube, which shows that consumers now can embarrass employees and the organisation by simple mobile devices. The video has had over 300,000 views; and the employee was suspended and offered counseling over the incident. More case studies you ask?
In 2009 Honda’s Facebook page was overflowing with negative comments about the new Honda CUV that was released on the market. Instead of Honda executives dealing with the comments in a professional manner, a manager of product planning who did not disclose his position or relationship with the company, posted how he loved the car and would purchase the car in a heartbeat. As a result, Honda suffered great embarrassment of this manager’s actions and removed the post; followed by ridicule from the community.
Lastly, GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons took a video of himself on a hunt in Africa and then proudly tweeted about killing problematic elephants. Although GoDaddy is no stranger to controversial marketing tactics, customers swiftly shifted to new domain registers where competitors of the organisation offered to donate $1 to elephant funds. This case study shows how much a controversial post on social media can change the perceived image of an organisation in the eyes of their customers.
Okay, I got a little carried away there with the loser organisations; however hopefully you can now see the importance of enforcing social media guidelines and policies in an organisation. No organisation wants to lose their customers or become legally liable due to a short tweet, post or video being uploaded onto the internet to go viral. Organisations should be letting their customers discuss their services virally for good reasons, which would be thanks to the policies the organization’s staff would be religiously following. The last thing any organisation would want is an employee’s bad behavior go viral on YouTube, or an elephant in the room (pun intended).