ALL that glitters is not gold.

There is no doubt that social media has successfully penetrated the world population at a very fast rate. Its users are also increasing day by day especially in the business world as entities are making a gold rush to be right in the faces of their customers at every turn.

It is also a well-known fact that there has been a steady rise of non-contact customer service due to the global pandemic, Covid-19. Organisations are being pushed daily to look for innovative and safe ways to engage their customers since customer engagement boosts sales and increases brand loyalty. Thus, social media platforms fit perfectly well as non-physical contact ways of interaction between businesses and customers.

Although customers that have had a good brand experience on social media are likely to share it with other customers or potential customers such as their friends, colleagues and relatives, it is also important for organisations to be aware of the other side of the coin when it comes to social media that may not be rosy after all.

Organisations must always be on guard for the negative effects that social media poses if not managed well. Some of the risks may hurt and kill brands.

These include the following:

Content cannot be censored

Organisations are bound to endure a backlash whenever they make a mistake because they have no way to censor the content of what their customers may say about their perceived error. A small mistake can be fatal to an organisation if not handled well. Organisations must, at all costs, avoid mistakes since some cause them to lose their reputation and customers.

Customers that endure negative customer experience usually put an organisation on the radar. This is because they can freely criticise the organisation on social media resulting in some posts going viral. Negative viral posts attract a lot of attention that may put the organisation in bad light.

Negative content signifies a defining moment for an organisation. This is because they are rendered powerless to redeem certain mistakes posted on their pages leaving them to be reactive rather than pro-active.

Vulnerability

Organisations that are forward thinking do not put all their eggs in one basket and over-rely on social media as the only marketing tool above all other customer engagement tools. They diversify their marketing efforts so that they are not held to ransom by one tool.

Heavy dependency on social media platforms might leave organisations at the mercy of changes that may occur on these sites. Naturally, organisations do not have power over how the creators of these sites run them and all they do is dance according to their tune of changes.

Lack of Control

Retweets, likes, comments can make posts popular in a short space of time and help followers to interact and view the content shared. However, in the same vein, organisations lack the power to control what their followers post and share.

It is usually beneficial when the followers are sharing positives about your brand but can be detrimental when the same posts are negative. Multiple users are able to interact with each post and are free to put their opinion.

This is dangerous if the opinions are not factual and present the organisation in bad light. The worst part is when organisations try to set the record straight by telling their side of the story, they usually fail to get enough positives. The bad tag may stick on the brand for a very long time unless the organisation makes spirited strong marketing campaigns to dismiss the allegations.

Brand Damage

Removing negative posts on social media platforms paints organisations with a suspicious brush. No professional organisation wants to appear devious in the eyes of its customers by hiding certain information. After all customers prefer organisations that own up to their mistakes and rectify them at the same time.

When a brand gets attacked on social media, negative customer reviews will likely follow it. These reviews may even send the brand to oblivion.

The resurgence of negative posts creates distaste among the organisation’s followers and usually drives them away reducing the number of followers. This is a sign that even the number of customers that patronise your brand will significantly drop.

Employees as brand advocates

Employees represent an organisation’s brand at all times and this includes social media. This, therefore, means organisations must monitor their employees’ activities on their personal social media accounts. This is difficult considering that customers tend to judge brands using the organisation’s employees’ personal social media accounts.

Monitoring or tracking of individual employee personal social media accounts may be in the same bracket as invasion of privacy and is hard to implement as some employees use pseudo names so as to avoid tracking.

Costly

Running and managing social media pages can be expensive. Small businesses are able to run their pages on their own but as organisations grow there is a need to invest more in the running of the organisation’s social media pages.

Maximum engagement for the brand requires heavy investment in social media tools. Since the modern customer requires prompt response on social media, organisations are forced to have employees that run their pages 24/7.

Customers love organisations that are always at their service and lend them an ear whenever they feel like engaging the organisation in good times or bad times.

Some big corporates end up hiring social media specialists who are able to come up with the appropriate social media campaigns. On the other hand, some end up having a fully-fledged social media marketing department and this means committing resources such as capital and labour to those departments.

Organisations must, therefore, be cognisant of both the benefits and negatives they derive from their social media presence as this will help them to make informed decisions.

Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba, is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions, she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461