Most, if not all multinational organisations have a presence in social media now. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or all of the popular networks, most big businesses have seemingly caught up. It does seem however that despite this natural progression for organisations, there is always room for caution.
One key factor that suggests that an element of reluctance exists towards ‘getting social’ is the fact that only 7.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are on Facebook themselves, and only 4% have opened Twitter accounts (found by a study by Domo, via Forbes.com). Why is this? The evidence that has persuaded the organisations that have thus far taken the social plunge is that despite industry and market differences, the fact that the modern day consumers live in social networks. Surely the CEOs themselves realise the benefits that can be gained from the unhindered relationships that can be developed between business and consumer, and even particular personnel and consumers.
There could be a myriad reasons why both CEOs are reluctant to join in with social media personally, and why there still needs to be an almost prudent approach when developing a social media strategy for any organisation.
Big business may be scared of social media because of for example, issues relating to transparency. Large organisations may worry that being active across certain social networks may mean that they will have to completely open up to customers about all elements of their operations. This however is twisted logic; before social media existed this was not necessary – so why should it be now? Online consumers are looking for a more human element to the service they receive, and if delivered in the right way a social media campaign can certainly achieve this.
Issues relating to an organisation’s brand, and overall communication approach may also feature in the mindset of an anxious CEO, this is exactly why proper content planning is needed in order to ensure that brand consistency is both retained and communicated appropriately across any networks that an organisations uses. In terms of reputation, businesses have every right to have concerns about reputation damage on social networks. As users of these networks can, for example post negative comments about an organisation that then may be seen by many people on the particular network, then brand damage may occur. A perfect example of how a large organisation has counteracted negative sentiments from consumers on social networks is the case of O2.
The company had huge network issues that effectively resulted in the loss of connection for hundreds of thousands of customers across all mediums. Many of these customers subsequently visited the company website which then crashed due to the gargantuan levels of traffic. The disgruntled customers then started giving the company abuse on Twitter relating to the problems they were experiencing. The way in which O2 responded to all kinds of abuse was key in counteracting the wave of negative sentiment that initially resulted from customers on Twitter. The person running O2’s account did not ‘stoop to the level’ of the abuse and simply answered particularly aggressive tweets with humour. The company started to gain sympathy from Twitter users because of the honest and friendly approach that it was taking, and therefore in a period of just over one day the reach of Twitter conversations referencing O2 with sentiment involving ‘love’ and ‘admiration’ increased massively.