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

EU to fund agricultural products affected by Russia's ban
Brussels, Aug 23 (IANS) Experts of the European Union (EU) said Friday that the EU would provide additional funding for agricultural products affected by Russia's food import ban.
 
 
Irish man tests negative for Ebola virus
Dublin, Aug 22 (IANS) Laboratory test samples of an Irish man, who died after recently returning from Africa, have proved negative for Ebola virus, health authorities in Ireland said Friday.
 
 
Soyuz rocket carrying two Galileo satellites lifts off
Brussels, Aug 22 (IANS) A Soyuz rocket carrying two Galileo satellites, the fifth and sixth of Europe's Galileo global satellite navigation system, lifted off from the spaceport in French Guiana Friday, the European Space Agency (ESA) has announced.
 
 
Fresh cases of Ebola recorded in Nigeria: Official
Abuja, Aug 22 (IANS) Fresh cases of the Ebola virus disease have been recorded in Nigeria, where the highly contagious disease has already claimed five lives, Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu said Friday.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Narine warns against taking Bangladesh lightly
St. George's (Grenada), Aug 23 (IANS/CMC) West Indies off spinner Sunil Narine has cautioned against taking Bangladesh lightly following his side's crushing 177-run victory in the second One-Day International (ODI)...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Nearly 200,000 killed since start of Syrian crisis: UN
United Nations, Aug 23 (IANS) The UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, Friday said that more than 191,000 people have been killed in Syria between March 2011 and April 2014, saying that the ongoing...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Atletico Madrid beat Real to lift Spanish Supercup
Madrid, Aug 23 (IANS) Atletico Madrid won the Spanish Supercup 2-1 on aggregate following a 1-0 win over Real Madrid in the second leg of the competition in the Vicente Calderon Stadium Friday night. Following a 1-1...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Hamas attack kills boy in Israel
Jerusalem, Aug 23 (IANS) A four-year-old boy was killed Friday evening by a mortar attack on southern Israel by Hamas, authorities said. The child was killed when a mortar barrage launched from the Gaza Strip hit a...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Family top priority for Celine Dion
Los Angeles, Aug 23 (IANS) Singer Celine Dion has cancelled all her work engagements indefinitely to stay by her ailing 72-year-old spouse Rene Angelil's side, and to support their sons as family always comes first for...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kendall and Kylie Jenner are 'amazing' girls
Kendall and Kylie Jenner's older half-brother insists they have good heads on their shoulders. Brody Jenner, 31, claims he doesn't worry about the teenagers, who are regularly spotted enjoying nights out with friends,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Justin Bieber issued warning by police
Justin Bieber has been warned by police not to drive his Can-Am Spyder on the sidewalk again. The 20-year-old singer, who is currently on probation, was accused of ''putting other people's safety in jeopardy'' after he...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Eva Green finds movie business 'cold'
Los Angeles, Aug 23 (IANS) Actress Eva Green, who finds the film industry "cold", says she always chose parts which made her feel good over those which presented her as a "boring beautiful girl". The 33-year-old, who...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Mass grave found in Mexico
Mexico City, Aug 23 (IANS) At least nine bodies have been recovered from a mass grave in Tumbiscatio, a municipality in Mexico's troubled state of Michoacan, media reports said Friday. The bodies have yet to be...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
US warns Russia over forcing convoy into Ukraine
Washington, Aug 23 (IANS) The White House warned Russia Friday that sending an aid convoy into eastern Ukraine without Kiev's approval would incur "additional consequences," while Russia insisted that further delay of...
Read more on Politics Balla