Why is Social Media Important to Business?

Sam Foster ⬥ 24 October

For some newer, smaller brands, pushing out great content via social media posts – promoted or organic – allows them to address product questions quickly and publicly, as well as increase awareness and recognition, driving customers to websites to make purchases (think companies like Betabrand or Alex and Ani).

For other, more established brands, social media can deepen existing customer relationships. Take Nike’s inspirational Instagram account; Kate Spade’s decadent travel-themed Pinterest boards; or Taco Bell’s massive and engaged Facebook following.

But, of course, there are also challenges to running a successful digital strategy on Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms.

A message could be hijacked, as was the case with McDonald’s #MDStories; even the platform’s use as a mouthpiece can be hijacked, as was the case with the now well-known parody account of @BPGlobalPR. Complaints have to be addressed or they risk getting shared by other unhappy customers; this means that human resources must be allocated in the form of social media-savvy customer service reps to help monitor and manage a brand’s online image.

Another challenge that social media brand managers must recognize and deal with is that of a socialsquatter; a socialsquatter could create a handle using a well-known trademark that tricks users into thinking it is owned by the corporation or company and start fake contests. With this challenge, social media brand managers need to pull in legal professionals into the room to weigh options: Use and abuse policies vary from platform to platform, adding another element of complexity to managing brand presence online.

Social media brand managers, legal, and other marketing minds also must work together when considering whether the risks are worth the rewards; as Ferrero SpA discovered in their legal departments’ pursuit of NutellaDay.com, sometimes the public backlash is much worse than any perceived risk posed by the domain name or social media username being in someone else’s hands.

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