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When social media strategies go wrong

Byron Connolly | May 26, 2014
Why IT needs to take social seriously. Plus, five corporate campaigns that failed spectacularly.

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We've all heard the stories: An employee calls in sick, doesn't go to work and then posts photos on their Facebook page or another social media site while at the cricket.

Or worse, a disgruntled staff member makes a threat on social media towards a fellow employee who was following him or her on a social network. The staffer turns up to work the next day and is sacked by his or her employer.

These are common examples of how individuals can end up in strife by knowingly doing the wrong thing on social networks.

But what happens when a corporate social media campaign fails? When the powers that be in your firm make a big social media boo-boo?

In many cases, brands are severely damaged and it's not only the marketing department that's responsible. IT also needs to shoulder some of the blame.

Your organisation's social media strategy will be developed by marketing people and loosely reference to lawyers, says David Yates, a partner at law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

But it's the IT group that is responsible for ensuring the organisation's social media platforms work and are monitored and integrated with 'what's going on in the organisation', Yates said at the Perth CIO Summit this month.

"Not so much because you are directly involved in decision making [on social media strategy], but you will be involved in the process, and when things go wrong, you're going to be involved in trying to solve [problems]," he says.

Yates says companies can also be liable when for misleading or defamatory content on social networks so they must have risk mitigation strategies in place.

"Cases are developing where judges are trying to work out when an organisation is responsible for defamatory content on a social media page" says Yates.

"Cases have got to this point: If it's there and it's there for a reasonable period of time and you fail to take it down, you could be liable for the defamatory and misleading publication. That's been led by a New Zealand decision.

"Australian decisions are at the point where if it's there and you know it's there and you didn't take it down, the organisation is going to be liable."

Here are 5 social media campaigns that have failed, creating significant fallout for the organisations involved. Our list also includes a social media campaign that was a raging success.

5. NYPD tries Twitter
In April this year, the New York Police Department (NYPD) turned to Twitter to gain support from the public, asking New Yorkers to post photos of themselves with the city's police officers.

However, things turned bad when people starting posting images of heavy-handed police in the city using the hashtag #myNYPD, which not surprisingly, trended very well on Twitter. It's a campaign the city's police force will surely want to forget.

 

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