We can all agree that social media can add immense value to a company’s brand. A great social media presence helps people discover your product or service, and if done right, can even be a great source for generating sales leads. However, what happens when good intentions go wrong? There is an inherent risk that individuals take when they post online—comments can come back to haunt them personally. The same goes for big businesses. Below are examples of the risks associated with being “social” in today’s world.
Sometimes is not even the brands fault, per se. No company has been in the news for all the wrong reasons because of their Twitter account than Burger King has. On February 18th hackers were able to gain control of Burger Kings Twitter account. They changed the logo to Burger Kings main rival, McDonalds, as well as posted inappropriate and offensive tweets for approximately two hours.
Before you begin to feel sorry for BK (if you even do), consider that it may not have been the worst thing that could have happened. Maybe, if I dare say– a good thing. Taking a look at it by the numbers, Burger King after being hacked gained 30 thousand new followers on the first day, as well as over 450 thousand tweets about them all over the world! Before the hack, BK had roughly 80 thousand followers. Today is has a little over 111 thousand. Now, if you subscribe to the old adage that all publicity is good publicity, then you can warrant an argument that BK being hacked was great for their brand recognition and most importantly for them—their bottom line. The challenge now for Burger King will be to leverage this new found popularity on social media to a more permanent state.
Now let’s take an example of a company who is actually at fault for their own social media disaster. In January 2012, McDonald’s embarked on an ambitious, yet foolish promoted trend campaign known as #McDStories. What was supposed to be an attempt for followers to share their happy stories about the brand to build rapport became a total Twitter nightmare. In fact, less than 2 hours after implementing it, McDonalds took down the hash tag. Why? Because heartwarming stories were not what was tweeted! McDonalds created a space where people could share their most disparaging stories about the McDonalds brand– and they did. To make things even worse, McDonald’s Twitter team didn’t tackle the problem head on. They simply tried to delete it and hope that it would go away. But like everything else on the web, once it’s there, it stays there.
As we can see, being social on the web carries risks and challenges that any business wanting to participate in social media has to deal with it. These are just a couple of the countless examples of companies dealing with mistakes and obstacles caused through social media. At the end of the day, anything you post on a social network, regardless of how insignificant you think it is, can rear its ugly head back at you. If it happens to Billion dollar companies, it can happen to anyone.
If you have any thoughts, please feel free to share!