Can social media ruin your business?

Posted on:05. 11. 2013

By Cliff Findlay

As we all know the world is changing and social media is having a massive impact on the way people market their product or business. With content marketing now being king my question is: do we have to be even more careful in terms of how we market our brands?

My thinking on social media strategy is as follows: Everyone is talking to everyone else. Therefore a lot of conversations are happening without your knowledge and without your input. Equally the content we are putting out there can have a massive impact on how we are seen and perceived by our market. Once it goes out there this content gets forwarded and looked at by people we don’t know and this is where it can all go wrong.

Only the other day an American based PR company lost a major gaming account because of a stupid email/twitter that was sent out by one of their staff. They apologised but the client thought that the piece of communication was so stupid that they decided to move to another agency. No doubt the person who sent the mail was probably fired (unless of course they owned the business), but that single person could in effect have brought down the entire company. We saw (at least in the UK anyway) a mother who emailed her potential daughter-in-law an abusive list of her bad manners. This was forwarded to hundreds of people and finally ended up in the daily newspapers. The marriage is now on hold!

A single email or tweet can cause a company to go bust or can affect a person's life dramatically. We saw this many years ago, before the internet and social media were even around, with Mr Ratner who jokingly said in a closed-door luncheon at the IOD that his jewellery was ‘crap’.  His comment was blasted across every newspaper. From a position of number one on the high street he lost a £650,000 salary, £500 million was wiped off the valuation of his company and a billion pound turnover slashed almost overnight, with one little joke!

But in today’s world those slight mistakes or misunderstood ‘jokes’ are on steroids with misquotes and bad communication suddenly being broadcast worldwide. Tweeted and re-tweeted and no way of stopping it. We have all pressed the send button on an email and suddenly thought NO! But it’s too late. It’s gone and what will be, will be. Today that risk is even higher.

Therefore should we be a little more worried about our content and who is putting it out there on our company’s behalf? No business owner can control or write all the content required to populate their social  media accounts regulalry and therefore typically they have to turn over some of the responsibility to other members of staff. So who is in charge of your output? If you don’t give them that pay-rise they were after could they do irreparable harm to your company brand and image in return? Could one silly joke bring your company down? Are they more in control of your company than you?

A worrying thought and maybe one that will make you think twice before allowing Julie the 22 year old graduate who ‘understands’ social media “coz she’s on Facebook all the time innit” to run the social media for your company.

You have been warned.

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