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Social media rules of engagement - part one

05 June 2013 | 05:58 am

troll smallDon’t be trigger-happy - There is not a delete button for the internet.

This may seem obvious to anybody who has used the internet as a communications tool, but it is never-ending source of amazement at just how many global brands and multinational businesses seem to forget this simple and often painful fact: There is not a delete button for the internet.

Always think before you hit that send button. If in doubt, go through all the possible scenarios and repercussions. Step outside your organisation and think how your clients, your competitors, the media and your boss will perceive your message. Bear in mind that when you post on behalf of your organisation, you are not seen as an individual speaking on its behalf, what you say reflects the ethos of the entire organisation.

Be aware of the tone you adopt and remember that some subjects can invite a flame war. Avoid religion and politics, and don’t ever be seen to be profiting from someone else’s misfortune.

Remember the now infamous Gap Tweet in the run up to Hurricane Sandy:

“All impacted by #Sandy, stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of Gap.com shopping today? How about you?”

A swift Tweet delete followed, but the damage was done.

Respect borders

There are few parts of the world that are not touched by social media. Almost anyone can engage with anyone else. This is an exciting opportunity for a business to expand the reach of its marketing into regions yet discovered. Though what you say online can have far more impact than you ever expected if you insult another nation or culture. One example of this was when fashion retailer Michael Kors decided to launch its ‘Spring Collection’ during the Arab Spring. So while the bullets were flying he Tweeted: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online…”

Banish the trolls

Do not allow spam and trolling on your company’s Facebook page. There are tools, which can remove these automatically, and they should be used. Do not engage with trolls or spammers, simply banish them. Do not retweet defamatory posts, unlike publications which can report a libel once it has been published elsewhere, retweets still counts as libel.

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