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As you all now, I absolutely love social media and the opportunities it provides to connect me with my family and friends from all over the world as well as connecting me with my favorite brands and quickly getting up to date news from all around the world. As someone who has managed a social media account for a previous employer, I know how important it is for a brand to actually have a social media account but lately I have wondered what some of the challenges might be as well…

So in this post, I’ll focus on the benefits and challenges a professional communicator might face when managing a social media account for their organization.

1. Crisis Management

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I was required to take a crisis class while I was working on my undergrad at Kennesaw State University and it was one of the classes I dreaded taking the most and ended up LOVING! I think that social media can truly help a company to deliver its crisis plan should a crisis occur. Having a social media account will allow for the company to quickly get out a response as well as monitor their key publics responses and reactions to the particular crisis.  This could be a huge benefit to managing a crisis if the company is prepared and all employees are aware of the companys’ social media policies during a crisis on what to do and what not do to. It is also important that the company stops their automated social media posts to show empathy to the crisis at hand. As much as I think social media can help a company during a crisis, I have seen times where it has really hurt a company as well. I have witnessed companies that sent out inappropriate posts or made other mistakes on social media. I think the most important thing for a company to do if they posted something inappropriate is to simply admit it. Even if a company deletes the post, chances are that someone has already seen it and screenshot it to share it with the world. So it’s best to admit it, apologize and to ensure it won’t happen again, like KitchenAid did. That’s the reason why I think it is so critical to make sure all employees have gone through social media training on how to present the brand online.

2. Ethical Issues in a Social Media World

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Social media has allowed companies to market themselves in ways that were unimaginable before Twitter, Facebook & co. They can now run hashtag contests on Twitter and share contests on Facebook to gain more visibility and better interact with their most loyal customers.  But with all the benefits that social media offers to a company to market themselves, there are also a lot of ethical issues that could arise. For example, as much as I love watching YouTube videos for product reviews, I always wonder about their authenticity and whether the company sponsored them or not, so I am glad that bloggers and YouTubers now legally have to disclose that information. I also always wonder if I see a post on a social media platform that talks overwhelmingly positive about a brand if it may be posted anonymously by the brand itself. Sephora is one particular company that comes to mind as a company that just last month had to face some ethical issues during their epic rewards promotion. There has been a lot of backlash about the handling of the promotion and people took out their frustrations on social media. I hope Sephora and other companies can learn of such hiccups and the power social media can have.

3. Brand Ambassadors 

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Brand Ambassadors are an amazing way for a company to reach a bigger audience and have a more trustworthy representative to share product reviews, company updates and to host giveaways. There’s especially a huge trend for blogger mommy’s to become brand ambassadors for family friendly brands.  I will admit that I myself love to read reviews from blogs or watch review videos on YouTube and they often help me to decide if I want to purchase a product or not. So I’d definitely recommend for companies to build relationships and to create brand ambassadors. The only downfall I can potentially see is that some people may not trust the authenticity of the brand ambassador or feel that they could only give a positive review because they are being compensated for it. One thing that really surprised me when I researched brand ambassador was the amount of online job postings I found for it. I always thought of a brand ambassador as someone who already liked a brand and was then approached by that brand and asked to be a brand ambassador. I always trust the reviews more if I know someone has promoted the brand for many years before even becoming an ambassador.

What do you guys think could be some Up and Downs for professional communicators that use social media? Did I miss any? I’d love to hear your feedback :).

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