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How To: Avoid Social Media Fiascoes (from MIT Technology Review)

How To: Avoid Social Media Fiascoes (from MIT Technology Review)

It is a nightmare that brands must face: one nasty post or tweet can undo years of carefully crafted brand image. You must engage with your customers on a 24/7 basis and respond to any negative remark that is possibly going viral within the day. Is it Def-con 4 in every boardroom with staffers monitoring tweets on Tweetdeck or some such monitoring app with the same intensity as Wall Street Traders glued to the Dow Jones Industrial Average?

How do you control and avoid social media fiascoes? To what extent are you, the brand, issuing rules and guidelines and, for heavens’ sake, training on what and what not to do or say? And really, to what extent are rules and guidelines actually effective in such a fast paced world as social media communication where the very nature of the communication is improvisational and reflex-reactive?

And just to play devil’s advocate: how do you rise above the noise without dicey/edgy material? Your consumer audience becomes so quickly jaded and bored with a “done that, seen that, can’t-impress-me” ennui.

Please share your insights! This is a Brave New World for all of us!

To further this discussion, please check out this article from the MIT Technology Review. The full article is here. Interesting snippets below.

Why Organizations Need Some New Rules To Thwart Social-Media Fiascos

By Gina Smith

“There are no rules yet. There’s only what works and what doesn’t work,” says Guy Kawasaki.

  • More and more companies are finding that they must figure out how to deal with the inevitable outburst–sometimes addressing it directly and sometimes ignoring the incident in hopes that the fuss will quickly pass.
  • Though there’s no way to control what customers and other outsiders are saying, some organizations have imposed policies on Twitter usage for their own employees and affiliates.
  • The impact of both positive and negative statements “can easily be amplified because of followers and fans.”
  • The viral nature of social media can turn even the most random, off-the-cuff comment into a broadcast.
  • As experience shows, trying new methods of engaging with audiences should not mean letting online fans or followers play havoc with your brand. Skittles, a division of Mars Candy, tried to woo young customers earlier this year by turning its site into a custom Twitter feed consisting of all posts that mentioned the rainbow-colored candies. The unintended result was a no-holds-barred adolescent free-for-all, with visitors posting all variety of silly, inane, and even obscene comments about what can be done with Skittles. Skittles isn’t the only company that hurt itself by trying so hard to be hip with social media.


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