The Pain & Pleasure Of Branded Social Media

Apr 20 2014, 10:54am CDT | by

During a recent Bulldog webinar on the subject of media relations 2.0, a senior communications professional from the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) noted that when the organization wanted to announce news, it simply posted the story to its FacebookLinkedIn and Pinterest pages, and its Twitter and Instagram feeds, plus one or two others. This approach is in stark contrast to a comapny’s long-held reliance on journalists to interpret then share its story with their respective readers, viewers and visitors.

By posting its news on the network’s social channels, with their millions of followers (that include nearly every social-minded TV reporter), PBS also eliminated the need to purchase a paid wire service distribution. Then again, PBS is not a publicly traded company, so the SEC’s ever-loosening rules requiring full disclosure do not apply.

The value to a company of its “owned” media channels cannot be overstated. I’ve written on more than one occasion how Google, and Twitter for example, need only post their company or product news — however inconsequential — on their corporate blogs to set tongues-a-waggin’ among their end-users and the many journalists who obsess over them.

For big social media-minded consumer-facing brands — from technology to automotive to CPG — having large social followings is a blessing from a communications and control perspective. No longer are they suppliant to the fifth estate to disseminate their news. What’s more, they can engage directly with their constituents using language and visuals of their own choosing.

Yet, as we learned this week, a large social media following is also a double-edged sword. The unintentional tweet of a pornographic image to U.S. Airways’ 400,000+ Twitter followers set off a firestorm, as it languished on the company’s Twitterstream for an hour for all to share before its removal.  It seemed like every PR/media pundit and channel I know weighed in on the brand-tainting breech.

And who can forget the ill-conceived tweet from IAC’s head of communications just as she went off-the-grid for a long overseas flight? In the early days of real-time social media, one could try to hide behind the claim that “I was hacked.” In some cases, it actually was true, like the time the AP Twitter feed reported “two explosions in the White House.”

Both beg the question of how best to both wield and harness this newly acquired power to influence hundreds of thousands if not millions of people (most of whom already have some positive affinity with the company or brand). I’m not talking about social media guidelines for social media managers and socially active employees, but rather something more akin to a network news division’s standards & practices, or a respected news organization’s standards & ethics.

Should businesses have an ethical or fiduciary obligation to fully vet the information they trumpet to their followers in the same vein as high quality journalistic enterprises?  Or is there an assumption that recipients of such “news” already consider the source when weighing the veracity of the message? Conversely, how can a company minimize the fallout when an ill-conceived tweet or Facebook post emanates from the company’s main feed? My client Crisp Thinking‘s Adam Hildreth offers some ideas here.

I’ll end by quoting someone who lives and breathes such issues.  Pete Blackshaw is Nestlé’s global head of digital and social media. He recently said:

“What happens in the social world, is that if you get that right, you get disproportionally rewarded. If you get it wrong, you get disproportionally punished or outed. There’s a real cost to getting it wrong.”

Food for thought.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Novel sound device to enhance wireless technology
New York, Nov 27 (IANS) Engineers have now developed a chip on which both sound waves and light waves are generated and confined together so that the sound can efficiently control the light.
 
 
Daily coffee may cut Alzheimer's risk by 20 percent
London, Nov 27 (IANS) Researchers have found that drinking up to five cups of coffee per day may help curb Alzheimer's risk by 20 percent.
 
 
Experimental Ebola vaccine safe, bolsters immunity
Washington, Nov 27 (IANS) An experimental vaccine to prevent Ebola virus disease has been found to be well-tolerated and produced immune system responses in all 20 healthy adults who received it in a Phase 1 clinical trial, researchers report.
 
 
Natural shield 11,000 km above Earth stops radiation
Washington, Nov 27 (IANS) In a pioneering feat, researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of Colorado in Boulder have discovered an invisible shield some 11,000 kms above Earth that works against the harmful radiation belt.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Daily coffee may cut Alzheimer's risk by 20 percent
London, Nov 27 (IANS) Researchers have found that drinking up to five cups of coffee per day may help curb Alzheimer's risk by 20 percent. Caffeine in coffee helps prevent the formation of amyloid plaques and...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kindle Black Friday 2014 Deals Live Now
As expected Amazon will have a huge Black Friday sale on the Amazon Kindle eBook reader and the Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets. The Kindle Black Friday 2014 Deals are live now. Amazon will offer the Kindle Fire HD 6 for $79...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Mandzukic's hat-trick fires Atletico Madrid to pre-quarters
Madrid, Nov 27 (IANS) Atletico Madrid secured their place in the last 16 of the Champions League, thanks to a 4-0 win at home against Olympiacos at the Vicente Calderon Stadium here. Atletico kicked off the game...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Atletico Mineiro clinch their first Copa do Brasil title
Belo Horizonte, Nov 27 (IANS) Atletico Mineiro clinched their first Copa do Brasil title by defeating local rivals Cruziero 3-0 on aggregate in the two-legged final. Brazil international striker Diego Tardelli struck...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Australian batsman Phillip Hughes is dead
Sydney, Nov 27 (IANS) Australian batsman Phillip Hughes who was struck on the head by a cricket ball died in hospital, Cricket Australia (CA) said Thursday. The 25-year-old Hughes, who represented the national team in...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Ex-minister claims proof of IS presence in Pakistan
Islamabad, Nov 27 (IANS) Former interior minister and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Rehman Malik claimed he has evidence about the presence of the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Pakistan. "Prime Minister...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
AS Monaco stun Leverkusen 1-0 in Champions League
Berlin, Nov 27 (IANS) AS Monaco needed just one shot on target to beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 in an UEFA Champions League Group C match. Despite the second loss in Group C Leverkusen qualified for the last 16, thanks to...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
11 killed in coal mine explosion in China
Beijing, Nov 27 (IANS) At least 11 people were killed in a coal mine explosion in China's Guizhou province Thursday, media reported. The accident happened in Songlin coal mine in Songhe town of Pan county. At the time...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
James Cameron: New Avatar films will shock
James Cameron says the new 'Avatar' films will be ''bitchin'.'' The three sequels to the 2009 blockbuster are currently in pre-production as the screenwriter puts the finishing touches to the scripts, but has hinted...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
SAARC leaders gather at Nepal resort for retreat
Kathmandu, Nov 27 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew in an Indian Air Force chopper to the Dhulikhel resort to join other South Asian leaders at the retreat there Thursday, the concluding day of the two-...
Read more on Politics Balla