As we saunter towards the end of 2018, not many brands exist without a presence on social media. Yet, for varying reasons, some still exist. One of the best know examples, JD Wetherspoon, was in the press last week following a High Court ruling about parody accounts. That inspired me to write this post to re-emphasise 5 reasons why every brand must have a presence, even if they’re reluctant to publish much/any content.
If you didn’t see the JD Wetherspoon story, here’s a quick summary for context:
- In April of this year, JD Wetherspoon closed their social media accounts
- For a number of years different parody JD Wetherspoon accounts have been active, causing the brand problems
- This made the news because of the ruling for Twitter to not only suspend them but also “reveal the identify behind parody accounts”. The full story is summarised on the BBC website↗️.
The ruling and any precedent it might set is a whole separate (intriguing) story, but more simply, it’s a strong case study for anyone doubting the importance of having a voice on the social media.
Without a presence, brands are opening themselves to a range of problems:
- They have limited options for acting against such parody accounts. Sure, they can be flagged for the social network to review and suspend the account, but we all know how quickly social media conversations move. By the time the account is actually suspended the damage can be done.
- People are still merrily tagging @wetherspoons_UK (the parody account) in what appear to be sincere tweets. This will only infuriate consumer further. Annoyed customer + perception of the brand ignoring their complaint = 🤬
A new 70-bedroom hotel is planned in the centre of Wolverhampton which would sit above @Wetherspoons_UK The Moon Under Water pub in Lichfield Street following a planned £7million makeover https://t.co/RzKkxjreeG
— Choice Locations (@Choicelocations) December 17, 2018
— Melanie Hall (@badlydrawnbird) December 16, 2018
- If a serious incident occurs, in a store for example, and the story begins to gather momentum on social media the brand is ‘starting blind’. Being on the back foot is never a good place to start when trying to manage PR damage limitation.
- The brand’s ability to gather valuable feedback from customers and prospects – be it good or bad – is significantly reduced.
- Twitter seems to increasingly be the default place for news sources to turn to when researching a story… if your side of the story is there it’s clearly far easier for them to reflect that side of the story.
Even if a brand is weary of what people might say to them on social media, they can’t bury their head in the sand because, as we know, it will get said anyway.
But equally that doesn’t mean brands must be active on every social media platform or publishing a frantic always-on stream of content. In a recent post I wrote about how brands might switch their use of social media to be predominantly about community management. Well, we could take a step even further back and just do social listening.
So, we’ve determined why we need a presence on social media. What’s the absolute minimum we can get away with? Here are five things as a foundation:
- Register your brand on all social networks. If you don’t plan to use them, then set them to private/hidden. The open nature of Twitter and Instagram make them mandatory
- For good measure register some close variations (like @wetherspoons_UK) – it won’t stop parody accounts, but it makes them less likely to appear ‘official’
- Get that blue verification tick of authenticity from the social networks
- Write a decent bio/about section telling people what they can/can’t expect. How about something with a bit of character…
- Official Twitter account for <insert brand name>. Honestly, we’re not big tweeters 🤭. But we DO read your @mentions and do our best to switch things up as a result. <CEO’s name> and the<insert brand name> team 👍.
- Procure a social listening tool (e.g. Pulsar, Brandwatch, Sysomos), plug in at least some basic ‘undesirable’ keywords and route corresponding mentions to the customer service function
- Repeat for step 5 but with mentions that praise your employees, sending them to the HR team
Sure, that takes a little planning, a little investment and a little resource. But once it’s done it’s done, with the undoubted saving of time, reduction in audience frustration and improved safeguarding of reputation.
What’s stopping you from at least registering an account on social media channels?