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Facebook for Business: How To Avoid Common PR Pitfalls and Secure Your Brand


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With more than 15 million businesses and organizations using Facebook for marketing and self-promotion, business owners and managers need to not only be aware of how to maximize their company’s Facebook presence, but also how to handle PR crises and avoid potential missteps that can damage the brand.

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Facebook for Business: How To Avoid Common PR Pitfalls and Secure Your Brand

  1. 1. How to Avoid Common PR Pitfalls & Secure Your Brand November 26, 2013 Presentation by Leigh-Anne Mauk Lawrence Social Media & Public Information Specialist Hagerstown Community College
  2. 2. Social Media Influence Today Top Four Contenders in 2013 Facebook • 665 million daily active users • 1.1 billion+ monthly active users • 15 million+ businesses and organizations have a Facebook fan page Twitter • 288 million monthly active users, which translates to 21% of the world’s Internet population using Twitter every month • Fastest growing social network in the world YouTube • 1 billion unique monthly visitors • 6 billion hours of videos are watched every month • YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network Google+ • 359 million monthly active users Sources: Social media icons: 2
  3. 3. Not Just For “Kids” Anymore… • Twitter: The 55-to-64 year old age bracket is the fastest growing demographic (79% growth rate since 2012) • Facebook and Google+: The 45-to-54 year old age bracket is the fastest growing demographic at 46% and 56% respectively Sources: 3
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  5. 5. Top 20 Brands on Facebook May 2013 1. YouTube 2. Coca-Cola 3. MTV 4. Disney 5. Red Bull 6. Converse 7. Starbucks 8. Oreo 9. Playstation 10. Walmart 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. McDonalds Blackberry iTunes Skype Pringles Monster Energy Samsung Mobile Subway Victoria’s Secret Target *Excluding Facebook Source: 5
  6. 6. What Makes These Brands Successful? They listen. They respond. They engage. Source: 6
  7. 7. Most Disturbing Facebook Brand Statistic 95% of all Facebook wall posts are NOT answered by brands unanswered answered Source: 7
  8. 8. Social Media PR Disasters Social Media PR Disasters happen when brands: Fail to react (i.e., ignore what is being said about the brand) • React negatively (i.e., in a defensive or hostile manner) • Mix personal views with business • Are careless with their social media posts (i.e., accidentally post personal updates from a company account) • Newsjack national or international tragedies (i.e., when you try to use these events as a marketing opportunity) Image credit: • Sources: 8
  9. 9. Reacting Defensively: Amy’s Baking Company What Happened: Arizona-based restaurant Amy’s Baking Company was featured on “Kitchen Nightmares” in May 2013. The show revealed that the owners: • • • Resold cakes made by other bakeries at higher prices Treated their employees terribly Cursed out customers who complained about their food Social Media Firestorm: A public shaming campaign began on sites like Yelp, as well as the bakery’s Facebook and Twitter pages. The owners did not handle it well. One of their early Facebook posts read: “I AM NOT STUPID ALL OF YOU ARE. YOU JUST DO NOT KNOW GOOD FOOD. IT IS NOT UNCOMMON TO RESELL THINGS WALMART DOES NOT MAKE THEIR ELECTRONICS OR TOYS SO LAY OFF!!!!” Sources: International Business Times ( 9
  10. 10. Newsjacking and Carelessness Right: Several brands made the mistake of trying to “newsjack” Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The public reacted badly and brands ended up having to delete their posts and offer public apologies. Below: A KitchenAid Twitter team member accidentally posted a personal tweet from the brand account. The company quickly deleted the tweet and apologized, but it took some time to straighten out the mistake. Source: 10
  11. 11. Silence is Deadly… Respond Even If It’s Not Your Fault The Infamous Taco Bell Photo What Happened: A Taco Bell employee posted a photo of himself licking a stack of taco shells in the kitchen of the restaurant where he worked on his personal Facebook page. The image quickly went viral. Taco Bell was quick to respond on the company’s website, but DID NOT post any public announcements on their official social media pages. AND: They disabled comments on the brand’s Facebook after answering only a few, attempting to silence their customers and stop the conversation. Sources: 11
  12. 12. PR Disaster Averted Facebook Brand Success Story: What Happened: DKNY approached New York photographer Brandon Stanton to purchase him images to use in storefronts around the world. Stanton declined and was shocked several months later when a friend sent him a photo of a Bangkok storefront that featured a number of his photos. He took to Facebook to share his story. The brand responded immediately on its Facebook page (right). (Note: Stanton requested the company make a charitable donation instead of paying him for his images.) Source: 12
  13. 13. To Avoid a Social Media Crisis 1. Don’t ignore Facebook in a crisis. If you have a fan page, make sure that breaking news or updates that appear on your website also find their way to your company’s Facebook page. Image credit: Takeaways: Steps You Can Take 2. Have a social media plan in place before a crisis happens. Make sure you know who will respond and what type of responses are permitted. 3. Think before you post. Don’t get defensive or hostile. Apologize to the customer (even if it’s not your fault) and try to offer a solution (not just an explanation). 4. Own the storyline. Continue to address comments, questions, and complaints as they develop and as events unfold. Don’t let silence speak for you (failing to respond only upsets people further). 5. Be careful when newsjacking. Don’t use tragedies to try to market your company. Your best bet is to offer sympathy and/or volunteer to help those affected by the tragedy (e.g., fundraising, collecting food, etc.). Sources: 13
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  15. 15. Protecting the Brand Whether you’re part of a large company or a small, independent business, it’s important that you know how to protect your brand on Facebook. Create a social media policy This policy should not only govern page administrators that post on the company’s behalf, but should also cover employees. Source: “Even if your employees are not posting on behalf of your company, their actions online can still affect how customers or prospects view your business.” In 2012, GameStop fired employees for posting photos of themselves “planking” in the store. Get a policy in place so that you can set expectations for your employees and have a course of action for when violations occur. *Also check out Monster’s small business article on “What to Do When an Employee Violates Your Social Media Policy”: Source: 15
  16. 16. Protecting the Brand Be aware of current social media laws Social media laws are constantly changing and evolving as new cases are brought to light. For example, in 2012, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that employees CAN use social media to complain or comment on management without retribution. Social Media Law Resources - National Labor Relations Board: Federal Trade Commission: Glen Gilmore (Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer. Expert in social media law, crisis communications, and digital marketing): Sources: 16
  17. 17. Protecting the Brand Monitor your brand’s reputation online • Check Facebook (and any other social media accounts) on a regular basis, preferably at least once or twice a day. • Monitor review sites like Yelp (especially if you are a restaurant or other small business that relies on word of mouth and customer reviews to get people in the door). • Set up a Google alert for your company. Once a Google alert has been set up, you will receive an email any time your brand or company name is mentioned online (not just through social media). Image credit: Sources: 17
  18. 18. Protecting the Brand Be careful what you post When using photos on Facebook, you need to either: • Own the image yourself • Purchase a stock image through a site like • Image credit: Images are a great way to engage fans and followers on Facebook. However, you can’t just grab an image from Google and upload it to your Facebook page. Such actions can land you on the wrong side of a lawsuit. Always respect copyrighted work. Use a free image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Sources: 18
  19. 19. Big Biz or Small Biz: The Same Facebook Rules Apply Final Takeaways Choose a page administrator who is responsible, reliable, and will represent the company well. 2. Training is important. Make sure your social media administrators not only understand what they can and cannot do on behalf of the brand, but also know how to respond in the event of a crisis. If you’re the social media administrator, seek out training for yourself. 3. Engage with your customers regularly. Post fresh, new content to your page wall on a regular basis. Posts should be short, friendly, and to-the-point. Photos are a must. 4. Put customer service first. Respond to questions and address complaints in a timely fashion. Show that you care and that you value customer input and feedback. 5. Think before you post. Use good judgment and act in the best interest of the brand. Image credit: 1. 19
  20. 20. Contact Information Leigh-Anne Mauk Lawrence Email: Twitter: @writenowsocial Social media icon on title slide: 20