Your online reputation is a valuable currency that allows your company to more genuinely connect with consumers and leads to higher quality exposure for your business. Implementing a social media strategy that takes advantage of that reputation is essential to your company’s success, but it can also bring a host of risks and challenges.
At this year’s Women Influence and Power in Law event, proper social strategy and security will be front and center during the panel “Effective Brand Management & Risk Mitigation in the Use of Social Media,” which will take place Oct. 4 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington D.C.
InsideCounsel recently had a chance to speak with Adrienne Logan, vice president, associate general counsel and assistant secretary of Godiva Chocolatier Inc. on some of the risks and rewards currently present in social media strategy. Logan, along with a group of experts will be discussing the topic in greater detail during the Oct. 4 event.
IC: What kind of branding risks are the most prevalent when using social media?
AL: Consistency is extremely important – the essence of the brand must be very familiar to the consumer and consistent across all channels – your consumer wants to have the same experience whether on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest. An inconsistent presence can confuse the consumer, dilute the brand integrity and in extreme cases, reduce customer loyalty. The social media platform is constantly changing and new players are entering the game daily -- it is difficult for an organization to determine which types of social media are best for their message. But, the power in many instances is being an early adopter. Mistakes are inevitable, but some organization can run the risk of not being nimble enough and miss the benefit of social media because they operate too slowly.
IC: Once risks have been identified, how can businesses mitigate them?
AL: One significant variable critically important with social media is constant presence and monitoring, whether that’s happening internally by the organization or externally through a vendor. Monitoring ensures that any external facing communication is acceptable to the organization, and monitoring the reaction to that communication is just as important. It is not practical for organizations to create guidelines and rules for social engagement that foresee all potential situations and problems. Certainly, an organization can focus on those scenarios that are most obvious – trademark style guidelines, requirements that employees identify themselves on social media when discussing products of the organization, etc., but there are far more instances that will present themselves as significant issues after the fact that did not necessarily fall within these guidelines or rules. Monitoring will aid a business in mitigating these risks as soon as they present themselves. For instance, the recent situation with AT&T and its portrayal of the beams signifying the Twin Towers is an example of this. Without monitoring the public reaction, AT&T would not have been able to deal with the situation quickly and manage the PR aspects as soon as it did.
IC: What kind of resources should businesses plan to use when dealing with these problems?
AL: In terms of managing these issues, I find it important that the organization have options, these could go as far as including crisis management expertise to address issues with social media that have an impact on the brand.
IC: Despite the risks of using social media, what advantages does proper use offer for brand management?
AL: It is difficult to think of a major retailer, whether in the U.S. or internationally, who has the luxury of ignoring social media as a valid sales enabler for the communication, extension and reach of their brand. Social media provides the ability to create more intimacy, excitement and connection with the brand because it has a real-time aspect, which simply does not exist on other platforms.
For those companies that have leveraged social media correctly, they have provided an alternate way to connect a population of customers that may not have connected with the brand. For those consumers who already are loyalists of the brand, social media provides another way to get to know the brand better. New launches of product, platforms or offerings have such an instantaneous connection with the consumer on social media that the effectiveness can be measured much sooner, which allows the organization to quickly amend the promotion depending on the success or perceived failure of the offering. In any case, the majority of retailers now see social media as a fundamental part of their marketing and brand strategy.
IC: What would you say is the most important thing for companies to keep in mind when incorporating social media in their brand management plans?
AL: Companies need to understand the necessity of placing a consistent footprint of their brand through social media. In each and every interaction that their customer has with the brand in the social media space, they should feel as if they are having the same customer experience across the board and the language and DNA of that respective brand should be easily evident.
The Women, Influence & Power in Law conference offers an opportunity for unprecedented exchange with women outside counsel. The event runs from Oct. 2-4 and is being held at the Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.