Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Jason Green.
Companies, whether they know it or not, find themselves in a rat race to remain relevant as the next generation of consumers have a short attention span, are increasing fickle, and have a declining ability to comprehend content that is longer than 140 characters. Not to mention, they have numerous platforms to trash your brand indiscriminately. This has created a fertile environment for innovative and fresh thinking social media gurus to flourish. But, are brands risking their reputation by outsourcing their social media efforts without taking the proper precautions? This recent article in the New York Times seems to indicate the answer is yes.
The Chrysler example illustrates the classic faux pas of an overeager agency employee operating off of the “Sarah Palin” model. Which is say what you want, when you want, how you want, and deal with the consequences later. A good idea in theory but not when put into practice. Turns out that the people of Detroit did not find the humor when their beloved Chrysler (@ChryslerAutos) tweeted “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f**king drive.” Instant online firestorm. Check. Agency fired. Check. Employee fired. Check. And just when the “imported from Detroit” campaign was taking off.
Another popular tactic that seems like a sure thing, given our country’s love affair with celebrities, is to give the celebrity of your choice free reign as a brand ambassador. OMG, did Taylor Swift just tweet about how much she loves Neutrogena’s exfoliating hand scrub?! A strategy that is easily facilitated by companies like ad.ly that “helps brands connect with consumers via today’s most influential celebrities, athletes and artists on Facebook, Twitter and more.” The website boasts clients such as Toyota, Microsoft, American Airlines, NBC, and Sony.
Unfortunately for Aflac, they seem to have gone rogue by selecting insult comic Gilbert Gottfried (yes, Gilbert Gottfried) as a social media ambassador. A great decision up until the point that he began poking fun at, according to the New York Times, a market that accounts for 75 percent of Aflac’s revenue – Japan. Too soon? Yes, Gibert, too soon. Good thing Aflac has a crisis PR team on retainer!
So, how do you ensure that your brand is taking advantage of social media rather than eroding years of careful brand positioning with one tweet? Take a step back, a deep breath and implement a social media quality control system.
It is critical to develop a process and system for engagement on each social media platform. Spoiler alert: social media is not as free flowing and organic as it may appear. It is essential to spend time developing a well thought out news flow with conversation topics and approved messages. We can’t give away all of the secrets but here are a few questions to mull over:
• Who will own and manage your brands social media strategy? Will it be in-house, an agency (is it the right agency?), or a combination of both?
• How is your brand perceived in the market place and is there room to push the envelope? How edgy is too edgy?
• Is any publicity good publicity?
• Will a celebrity partnership enhance your social media strategy and how do you align your brand image with the correct spokesperson?
• Do you want to participate in real-time conversations? If so, who is authorized to approve messages on the fly?
A brand is a terrible thing to waste, and one twitpic gone awry can sink your brand, cost your agency a client, or turn you into a 99er. So, think before you tweet.