Safety First

You may be aware that earlier this week the BBC launched their Share Take Care’ campaign, encouraging everybody to actively protect their online activity. As a society, we are concerned about the photographs, status updates and information we share with fellow family members, co-workers and friends, taking time to monitor our own security settings. However, how many of us apply the same effort and methods to protecting our business accounts online?

Social media presents businesses with many opportunities, including customer support and the ability to communicate quickly with customers and suppliers. The communications giant NETGEAR recently commissioned a piece of research looking at how important social media has become for businesses. NETGEAR asked 300 small business owners and IT managers how they were using social media in their company. Nearly half of those polled said they were using social media to stay in touch with their customers and nearly 60% said they were using social networking for internal communications. But only 29% said that had made moves to educate their staff about the risks social media may present to their business and what they should be doing to monitor their brand awareness online.

The reputational risks of social media can easily equal or exceed the reputational benefits. The reason is simple; the vast reach of social media platforms enable brands to communicate every second, globally, providing both opportunities and risks. You may remember last year, TLC Business highlighted key areas to help protect your business online.  We thought now would be the prime time to inform you again of the simply steps you can perform, in order to secure your business and its reputation on social networking sites.

Educating employees:

The developments in social media are here to stay, so empower your employees with best practices and guidelines.

  • Create, update, communicate and enforce a company policy that specifies social media do’s and don’ts, including how employees may interact with visitors and use visitors’ information.
  • Identify the key players who will be responsible for developing, executing, and monitoring your social media strategy. Assign at least two administrators for your account. The admins should monitor and promptly respond to new Facebook and Twitter policy changes and features, always considering the impact on the business
  • Sit down with your team and explore the topics and voice you would like to channel to your target audience; create a content plan that employees can follow and use as a guideline throughout the year.

Monitoring conversation online:

Here at TLC Business we recommend Google Alerts as a vital tool to monitor what is being said about your brand. Google Alerts is about understanding what type of information is out there that’s tied to your name, and most importantly your business.

Google Alerts are email updates that are sent to you for whatever keyword or phrase you decide to set the alert. As soon as your name is mentioned anywhere on the Internet, you are sent an alert immediately.

There are other tools out there that do a similar thing but be aware that the results are not definitive, the web is a massive place.

There are only 5 pieces of information that you need to provide to start using Google Alerts:

  1. The word or phrase you want to be alerted about: company name, your name, your products, etc
  2. The type of search: news, blogs, video, discussions, or everything
  3. How often: as it happens, once a day, or once a week
  4. Volume: only the best results or all results
  5. Where the alert should be delivered: email address or feed

One of the latest social media activities to come under fire is a campaign ran by McDonalds. The fast food chain started a campaign on Twitter promoting #MeetTheFarmers, to show how good McDonalds is, but suddenly they changed gears to #McDstories; which unfortunately backfired when people shared their horrifying stories.  See below for some of the tweets circulated worldwide:

  • #McDStories Take a McDonalds fry, let it sit for 6 months. It will not deteriorate or spoil like a normal potato. It will remain how it was
  • ‘These #McDStories never get old, kinda like a box of McDonald’s 10 piece’

Like any business feature or marketing activity, creating and communicating a clear plan is crucial to avoid mistakes. If you are worried how your brand is going to be perceived online, spend time evaluating the right message you want to send out to your target market, what information they will find useful and more importantly what messages can be monitored and dealt with by your team.

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