Brandjacking occurs when someone assumes the online identity of another entity for the purpose of acquiring that organisation’s brand equity. For example, immediately after the BP Gulf oil spill someone created the Twitter account @BPGlobalPR. It was a feed of sarcastic and inappropriate Tweets from a fake BP spokesperson that many believed were coming from an authorised BP public relations source. Legal action can be taken in these circumstances but only if a brand is aware of the situation.
While it is not possible to completely prevent brandjacking, listening across social media channels to find out what is being said makes it possible to intercept fake social media accounts and allows prompt action to be taken.
Embarrassment by Association
Reputation damage can be significant simply as a result of actions by a brand ambassador. A misplaced Tweet or photograph posted on Facebook can spread around the world in minutes, and intentionally or otherwise, brand ambassadors can land an organisation in trouble. Therefore, contracts and relationships have to be well regulated to avoid embarrassment all round.
Defamation and the Law
Not many people realise that posting, Tweeting or Re-Tweeting a libel will leave the person or organisation involved open to prosecution. The original person/poster can be liable for all subsequent reposts. In the UK, the Defamation Act 2013 has strengthened the protection for channels such as Facebook and Twitter, which will encourage those who have been libelled to pursue someone else responsible for the social media post or repost. This leaves organisations open to legal action if an employee or corporate account is involved.
Social Media is Moving up the Risk Register
While many organisations are beginning to realise social media is a risk, very few have it on the risk register. Although social media is a relatively recent technological phenomenon, many common risks are not new. The broad reach and real-time interaction that makes social media a powerful tool for marketing and advertising can amplify and accelerate risks. There is no time to lose before taking the necessary precautions to remain legal while not stifling innovation.
Regular Risk Management Rules Apply
In common with any risky situation normal risk assessment rules apply to managing social media – identify, record and mitigate risk. But how can this be achieved with an inherently disparate and very individual communication channel?
Step One: Identification
The first step is to identify potential risks, in the case of social media these include:
- Employees sharing confidential information
- Loss of control or ownership of the organisation’s social media accounts
- Careless posting by employees – accidental or deliberate
- Employees defaming their employer on personal profiles
- Failing to respond to negative posts or responding in an inappropriate manner
- Failing to listen to the social web or the right conversations
- Not sharing best practice
- Being unaware of who is listening to which conversations and responding on behalf of the organisation
A lack of attention to detail in terms of knowing how usernames and passwords are being shared means that in the event of something going wrong no-one is accountable or traceable for posting the offending content. The lack of an audit trail makes it difficult to identify who and why a damaging internal post has appeared.
Step Two: Record and Manage
To record and manage potential social media risks the second step is to implement an enterprise control platform that works seamlessly across the entire organisation, from marketing to customer service and operations. A single dashboard provides controlled access to an organisation’s social media profiles, monitoring who is authorised to make posts and the content of those posts.
Step Three: Mitigation
Mitigation is the third step when it comes to the control of social media risk. Nothing should be done in haste. In the event of the worst happening, social media channels should be kept open and readers kept informed as to what is being done to remedy the situation. Openness and clarity are essential.
So while there is no doubt that social media will continue to be a key part of the marketing mix and it will move up the risk register, by implementing sound processes and procedures supported by an automated enterprise control platform, organisations will be able to tame the social media tiger without stifling innovation or competitive advantage.