August 30, 2017 By FTI Consulting
Eater, a popular food-forward digital publication, committed a mild social media faux pas on Monday morning. As Houston, Texas faced mass evacuations and several feet of floodwater, Eater tweeted a story about a flood helping to create a 180-day dry-aged steak. The tweet, now deleted, came across a little tone deaf as rescue workers struggled to rescue families from destroyed homes.
Now, there was obviously no malicious intent, and companies post things (or email them) all the time that are unintentionally insensitive. They are typically pretty quickly forgiven. However, there are some good reminders for channel managers here about avoiding slip-ups in the first place.
For example, be careful of trending content. Mapping trending topics and hashtags can be fantastic for social media success; making sure to be topical, relevant and responsive. But you have to know the story first. Just because “flood” is trending doesn’t mean every company should jump in with something to say.
Equally, be wary of scheduling posts. Many companies feel comfortable scheduling posts days, weeks or months in advance. This can be effective in saving time managing channels but needs careful monitoring. Channel managers need to keep sight of what they are publishing and have back up posts ready in case any might clash with the news cycle.
Social media often create vulnerabilities for companies. From a reputational standpoint, the wrong message at the wrong time from a branded account (example above) can frustrate and alienate stakeholders. Even trickier is dealing with employee accounts. Employees posting on personal accounts can still be deleterious to an employer’s brand.
But social media can present a security risk as well, providing a foot in the door to hackers. Social media profiles provide a treasure-trove of personal information to better target phishing scams, and getting into a user’s account provides an open window to that user’s network. In many cases, on personal networks like Facebook as well as professional ones like LinkedIn, these networks also include colleagues. So what is to be done?
Regular reminders and lessons about online safety can go a long way to protecting your company. Updated social media guidelines with a focus on staying safe online as well as company policies for proper usage should be rolled out and regularly revisited with updates and recirculated to employees. An employer showing a care for online safety can inspire its employees to follow its good example.
Some pretty important numbers for you. 87 percent of time spent online on mobile devices is done in apps and only 13 percent on mobile web browsers. Of this 87 percent, half is spent in just five apps. These five apps are owned by just two companies, Facebook and Alphabet (née Google). Even looking a little more broadly, users spend 96 percent of their mobile online time in just 10 apps, of which Alphabet owns five and Facebook owns three. Especially when categorized into social and news apps, the penetration is startling. By comScore’s calculation, Facebook has a U.S. population penetration of 93%, while Apple News dominates news apps with 77% penetration. Just going to let that sink in for a minute…
While we endeavor to give you all of the updates you need to know and why they matter on a weekly basis, nothing is more valuable than personal familiarity with the apps themselves. Knowing key features like Facebook’s video tab and Google’s trending story suggestions could be key to effectively getting your messaging out there or tracking and mitigating a damaging story.
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As the rainfall from Harvey forced the National Weather Service to include a whole new color in its maps, we finally got some positive coverage about social media. Across the Houston area, local news and social media have been instrumental in rescuing vulnerable citizens stranded in Harvey’s floods, and this especially powerful viral image helped rescue trapped seniors in need of care. Our thoughts are with all of those affected.