One of the reasons some companies are reluctant to start using social media is because they have concerns about the open forum it offers for discussion about their product – and more specifically any negativity that might bring. After all social media allows everyone the opportunity to be a journalist. Unfortunately what these companies don’t recognise is that whether you use these forums or not people can still talk about you. The only implication of not being engaged then becomes that you do not have a valid forum, and faithful followers, for any kind of right to reply.
A Kenyan example was the Art Café ‘racism’ issue. The rumors about what had happened over the pastries went crazy over social media and took on a life of their own. Art Café, without social media profiles, buried their heads in the sand and hoped it would go away. It didn’t. As pressure mounted a senior official from Art Café eventually ended up having to attend an interview on national radio to try and reign in the snowball of negative publicity.
Even if you decided as a company you do not want to engage you should as a minimum track what is being said about you by keeping an eye on hashtags and your brand name and products across all social media platforms. At least you then have the information, whether you choose to engage, to respond, prompt or lead the discussion that is up to you.
It is also worth keeping track of online new and blog posts about your organisation. This can be done through free facilities such as Google Alerts and Mention, this will help to keep your company posted on any popular news articles or blogs in which you might be listed. Once you then have the information you can decide what you do with it. Forewarned is forearmed.
But……….. it is not all about the negativity. It is as likely that people are going on line and saying great things about your products and services. If you don’t know how can you harness this.
So – while you might decided you don’t want to engage I think it is a mistake that many companies are making to decide they don’t want to know! Proliferation of the internet is moving fast in Africa and the middle class, vocal and connected, consumer is on the rise – burying the company head against the online invasion may be a mistake your company lives to regret. I would always recommend any company to instead take the meerkat approach to online activity and organise themselves to know what is happening at all times to enable them to enjoy and make the most out of the good and deal swiftly with the bad.
Sam Crosthwaite – Client Service Manager