Monday, 21 March 2011

Think before you speak… Tweet/blog/upload

A rush of insensitive remarks and ‘off the cuff’ comments in the land of the famous has really hit home the idea that increasingly nothing is “off the record”.

While people such as ITV’s Midsomer Murders producer, Brian True-May, are still tripping themselves up in an interview setting, others like Burger King’s chief executive Bernardo Hees are making ill advised comments they believe to be unofficial.

The incident, where Hees told a group of college students that British food was awful and that the women were unattractive (an attempt at humour), was reported in the US and it wasn’t long before British people and women everywhere became offended, leaving the brand a little worse for wear.

While social media helped to spread this story, there is also no such thing as ‘off the record’ online. Twitter and other social networking sites are frequently breaking news stories quicker than traditional media and a story can travel around the world in minutes. Celebrities are increasingly more accessible and without an editing filter, some celebrities have been caught out for what they have posted on these types of sites.

Back in January, former Liverpool player Ryan Babel became the first footballer to be reprimanded by the FA when he posted a mock-up picture on Twitter of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United top, after a 1-0 defeat.

Shoe designer Kenneth Cole also put his foot in it during the Cairo riots in February when he attempted to use the trending Cairo hashtag (#cairo) to promote his latest spring collection on Twitter:

‘Millions are in uproar in #cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available’

The message was retweeted, commented on, reported and quickly spread around the world. Many former fans claimed they would never buy a pair of his shoes again. Cole issued an apology.

50 Cent should have thought of Cole’s experience before his attempt at humour during the Japanese tsunami. The ‘jokes’ left people around the world outraged and the rapper issued an apology and took down the offensive posts.

Some celebrities seem to have forgotten that they are representatives of a brand. Their actions are scrutinised all over the world and nothing is ever ‘off the record’.

The above remarks would never have seen the light of day if clear strategies for engaging with social media had been implemented.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Five W's of social media


Who will represent your company in the online sphere? Will you have a corporate blog and a corporate profile or will you opt for a ‘human’ profile with key members of your team tweeting on your behalf?

The key here is consistency whichever approach you take on. All tweets, updates and messages must be in line with your corporate objectives and must reflect your brand at all times.

Remember all your employees will most likely use social media outside of work. Do you have policies about them mentioning your business offline? What are the consequences of someone giving out insider information? Many people have ‘off days’ but will a tweet like “Really hating work today” damage your brand if the person has listed your company as the place they work?


Again, this is all about consistency. Whatever you decide to share via social media, it needs to be in sync with messages your company already sends out.

Social media users also tire very quickly of people who constantly send them information about their latest product or spam them with links back to the company website. Remember to give something back to the community you wish to join. This could be in the form of links to industry news or sharing experiences that don’t necessarily lead to ROI.

Don’t be afraid of the negative. If someone is saying something ‘bad’ don’t ignore it, address it.


If MySpace has taught us anything, it’s not to fall in love with a particular method of social media. What is popular today may not be tomorrow. Research your audience and find out where they are having their conversations and then engage in that particular network.


When is entirely up to you - before lunch, after lunch, it doesn’t really matter though researching your audience will help you in the right direction. If you are updating your content at 9am and you find that your audience consists of young mothers, 9am is probably not the best time to engage with them as they will be on the school run and less interested in what you have to say.

Social media is instant and will happen with or without you. Updating frequently can keep people interested but only if your content is valuable to them.


What do you hope to gain through the use of social media? Social media is not a quick option. It takes time, resources and research to get it right. If you haven’t set goals how will you measure if you have been successful or not?

Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, becoming an industry leader, increasing sales or a mixture of all three, it’s essential that these goals are set before you start your social media campaigns.

Good Luck!