by Terry Green
The rise of blogging and social media has changed everything. It changed the way we view the world, the way people access information, and perhaps most importantly, the methods by which anonymous information can enter the public eye. Everything is transparent. It’s a development that would never have been possible without global participation.
But it has also enabled a great deal of anonymous feedback, which is often critical, to seep into the public arena. Journalism was once a rather slow, one-way process, and while it resulted in much less immediate access than it does today, it came with fewer thoughtless comments and needless thought than today’s news does. The worldwide web has become a haven for critics and others with any kind of interest in destroying brands and spreading bad information.
A very good example is the global gas and oil company BP. Given the online controversy surrounding its recent environmental disaster, it’s no wonder the company is investing some serious time into social media marketing. A false company Twitter page, named ‘BPGlobalPR’ for maximum irony, was created by fans (or critics) within weeks of the disaster, giving a very clear look into the negative value of social media as a branding tool.
BP’s public relations breakdown is the obvious example, although there are thousands out there to choose from. Domino’s Pizza experienced a similar meltdown after a video of employees tampering with food made its way onto the internet. Food giant Subway has been forced to repair their image online, after secret footage of a rat infested store made its way onto YouTube. I could go on, but you get the idea.
Thousands of marketers have highlighted the importance of social media for brand building. Even more marketers have discussed its ability to help an established brand grow. What very few people are talking about – and what’s most important – is social media’s opposite power. Without any care and attention, it’s just as easy for social media to ruin your brand as it is to help it grow.
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