3 Reasons Why Social Media is Dangerous


Lots of brands are afraid of social media.

That’s why they do it poorly, or why they don’t do it at all.

Unfortunately, ignoring a communications trend is not a recipe for success – especially when the trend turns into an actual best practice.

So if you’re a brand and you aren’t doing social media?

Well, you likely aren’t doing communications very well.

Imagine, for example, trying to write a press release without using any verbs. That’s kind of like doing communications in 2013 without social media.

That said there are legitimate reasons to fear social media. It can be dangerous, especially for those not well versed in how the platforms work or are unfamiliar with best practices on those platforms.

So here are three reasons why social media is dangerous.

1. It’s real-time

Heck, more and more often it’s live. And anything can happen when you’re doing real-time communications: technology failures, Internet hiccups, typos, screw-ups, unscripted moments, unruly fans… you name it.

And that can be very scary.

The key is to realize that no real-time broadcast – be it live video or live tweeting goes according to plan. You need to roll with it.

It’s the real-time nature of the platforms that make them so powerful. Brands just need to have the right mentality for real-time communications and understand that they won’t be able to control everything.

2. Mistakes are amplified

Yup, that typo of Bob’s name really went out to hundreds of thousands of people as “Boob.”

Yes it is embarrassing to accidentally post your weekend drinking pictures to the brand Twitter account.

Yes, your computer crashing in the middle of a live video broadcast will black out the picture to thousands of fans.

And, yes, you’ll get a dump truck of criticism heap on you for all of the above. But the good news is that it’s fleeting and people really are forgiving when the mistakes are honest ones. They are not so forgiving when they are dishonest mistakes.

Mistakes happen. But you can minimize them with great preparation, back-up plans, and experts to guide you.

3. Fans are uncontrollable

And sometimes they resemble a mob carrying torches and pitchforks. You need to be prepared for those difficult fans: the complainers, the self-absorbed, the trolls, the profane, and the angry. No brand – even the best-loved brands (heck, especially the best-loved brands) – doesn’t have an unruly fan on occasion.

Don’t overreact. Be direct, be firm, and be polite.

Do those things and you’d be surprised at how many of your other fans come to your defense.


The Downfall of Social Media

4 Myths of Social Media Authenticity

4 Responses to “3 Reasons Why Social Media is Dangerous”

  1. If your firm isn’t isn’t customer focused, stay away from social media. If you stay away from social media, you won’t flourish. Ergo, be customer focused virtually and in reality.

  2. That’s an excellent assessment. If you treat your customers poorly – they will pay you back on social in a BIG way.

  3. Hi George, just catching up to this piece. There’s one more reason you don’t have here on why some companies don’t do social media – they’re not allowed to.

    I’ve worked in financial services for several years now and various laws and regulations place major restrictions on communications. All major press releases, brochures, and other matters need to be approved by legal, compliance, or both to ensure we are not breaking any SEC rules. Since social media is so vast and changes so quickly, it cannot be monitored and is therefore off limits. An errant tweet that mistakenly runs afoul of SEC requirements could invite audits and serious fines. This is also true with other hyper-regulated industries like energy and health care.

    While some financial services companies are using social media for things like charitable works and sponsorships, the business side is largely dormant in using this as a communications tool. Reconciling these differences as more communications goes through social media will be an ongoing legal and PR challenge.

  4. Great insights, David. Thanks for bringing up a very good point.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: