Over a billion people in the world have some form of a social media account. In fact, 31 percent of all internet traffic is due to social media. With the large volume of people on these websites every day, an organization can easily be seen by millions of people in an instant. This is both exciting and frightening to public relations employees everywhere. A company’s reputation can be easily smeared or boosted due to social media influence. It is important for a company to closely monitor their social media accounts and have a strategy and plan in place to make sure disasters or accidents don’t happen. That same strategy can put a company in the limelight and separate them from their competitors. A simple tweet or post can change one’s image in an online world.
Examples of social media triumphs and failures are not an uncommon occurrence. We often will see the failures in the media. These mistakes made on social media make a great story. United Airlines is a wonderful example of what a company should strive not to do on social media. Earlier this year, they received mass amounts of attention for injuring and forcibly removing a paying passenger from one of their overbooked flights. Customers were not pleased. In situations like this, social media can be your friend or your foe. A social media apology is a great way to reach customers and show that you are listening to them. A strategy needs to be in place to handle sensitive situations like this. United Airlines instead added fuel to the fire by criticizing the passenger and blaming him for what happened. United Airlines did eventually admit their wrongdoings but not until after a drop in stock value, costing the company around 255 million dollars.
Successful social media strategies can be found throughout the internet as well. One example of an excellent social media strategy is with Arby’s restaurants. Arby’s social media page has been getting a lot of attention for its interesting approach on social media. Over the past year, Arby’s has shifted from using social media to showcase menu items, to catering to a gaming and anime community as well as a younger and more diverse population. They have also made references to old popular television shows using Arby’s products and merchandise in their posts. Since the strategy launched, Arby’s shares on Facebook have doubled and the Arby’s customer population for 18 to 38 year olds has increased to over half of its customer base.
A company’s reputation is important to maintain. Social media is a crucial part of keeping that image in a positive light. However, it is a double-edged sword. That same platform that helped you grow your reputation can tarnish it just as quickly. A strong social media strategy is vital and becoming increasingly important as the use of social media continues to rise.
– Ryan Suter