Lots of brands are afraid of social media.
That’s why they do it poorly, or why they don’t do it at all.
Unfortunately, ignoring a communications trend is not a recipe for success – especially when the trend turns into an actual best practice.
So if you’re a brand and you aren’t doing social media?
Well, you likely aren’t doing communications very well.
Imagine, for example, trying to write a press release without using any verbs. That’s kind of like doing communications in 2013 without social media.
That said there are legitimate reasons to fear social media. It can be dangerous, especially for those not well versed in how the platforms work or are unfamiliar with best practices on those platforms.
So here are three reasons why social media is dangerous.
1. It’s real-time
Heck, more and more often it’s live. And anything can happen when you’re doing real-time communications: technology failures, Internet hiccups, typos, screw-ups, unscripted moments, unruly fans… you name it.
And that can be very scary.
The key is to realize that no real-time broadcast – be it live video or live tweeting goes according to plan. You need to roll with it.
It’s the real-time nature of the platforms that make them so powerful. Brands just need to have the right mentality for real-time communications and understand that they won’t be able to control everything.
2. Mistakes are amplified
Yup, that typo of Bob’s name really went out to hundreds of thousands of people as “Boob.”
Yes it is embarrassing to accidentally post your weekend drinking pictures to the brand Twitter account.
Yes, your computer crashing in the middle of a live video broadcast will black out the picture to thousands of fans.
And, yes, you’ll get a dump truck of criticism heap on you for all of the above. But the good news is that it’s fleeting and people really are forgiving when the mistakes are honest ones. They are not so forgiving when they are dishonest mistakes.
Mistakes happen. But you can minimize them with great preparation, back-up plans, and experts to guide you.
3. Fans are uncontrollable
And sometimes they resemble a mob carrying torches and pitchforks. You need to be prepared for those difficult fans: the complainers, the self-absorbed, the trolls, the profane, and the angry. No brand – even the best-loved brands (heck, especially the best-loved brands) – doesn’t have an unruly fan on occasion.
Don’t overreact. Be direct, be firm, and be polite.
Do those things and you’d be surprised at how many of your other fans come to your defense.