Looking Ahead: Getting a Handle on Social Media

It seems 2012 will be a good year for brands and their social media networks. We’ve been riding the Facebook and Twitter train for a few years and now it’s time to start producing organized and relevant content. Companies are finally realizing that in order to fully utilize social media sites, they must add strategy to the mix.

“Companies launched social media with little planning, and without standardized processes,” according to Altimeter Group analyst Jeremiah Owyang, writing on PR-Squared. “Companies that don’t get control are at risk of abandoned accounts, inconsistent experience for customers, and untrained employees creating a crisis…”

Now this is a really interesting concept. Paying someone to manage your social media. The truth is, social media has become such a significant part of our lives that it deserves a little organization. “Big brands are managing an overwhelming number of social media accounts with an average of 178 accounts per company,” according to a recent study. (Altimeter surveyed 144 enterprise-class corporations with 1,000 employees or more, including Applebee’s, Avaya, Caterpillar, Hallmark, JP Morgan Chase, Newell Rubbermaid and Western Union.)

Above all, PR people need to realize this and consider it when working with their clients. Take a moment to think about how fast a post is made #this takes crisis management to a whole new level.

My question is, what kind of regulations and even potential laws do we see in the future? It’s hard to believe this flood of social media content will continue without some major bumps along the way. An example of a speed bump emerged in the Costa Concordia case, specifically when the cruise line neglected to pull the tagline from their promotional ad which read Immerse Yourself In A Truly European Experience, even after sinking on Jan. 13th with more than 4,200 passengers onboard“When you choose Costa cruises,” the brochure explains, “you don’t just see Europe — you live it.”

Although there seems to be many things wrong with this picture, there is one question in particular. Who was managing their social media? Unfortunately for the Costa Concordia, they were not only unprepared for a crisis of this nature, but also lacked the skills and strategy needed to recover from such a terrible blow.

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2 Responses to Looking Ahead: Getting a Handle on Social Media

  1. jperaza says:

    Social media is as dangerous to public relations as it is beneficial. The “openness” and two-way communication between the company and the consumer are great ways of figuring out what the customer wants. But in the case of Costa Concordia and their failure to update their taglines online, social media allowed thousands to see just how unprepared they were. There’s also a fine line between keeping social media “social” and not turning it into a virtual classified ad website. I think regulations addressing such potential issues could come about in the future. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and other sites are quickly becoming the main sources of advertising for companies. The benefit? It’s free. The downfall? It is diminishing the idea behind “social” media.

  2. abwolfe says:

    The problem with laws being developed for protection is that it will be seen as censorship. People will protest and cause a scene, and the lawmakers will likely make the law go too far and impede rights. Government officials and lawmakers don’t seem to have a great grasp on the power of the Internet, and odds are their laws wouldn’t be fair or necessary. As far as companies go, firewalls and other security options should be developed.

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