Many companies tap into social media to foster engagement with their audience and to stay abreast of customer needs, market trends and breaking news requiring attention. However, even the savviest of organizations may overlook the need to monitor for brand protection related issues, such as brand impersonation, account spoofing or even counterfeit goods.
With a growing focus on social media channels — and growing pressure to deliver measurable results — it’s critical that marketing executives address these risks. Otherwise, they’re at risk of sacrificing hard-earned brand trust and the ability to engage consumers one-on-one. This report explores these issues and offers best practices for protecting your brand in social media channels.
Social Media: The Double-Edged Sword
Digital channels — including social media — are an increasing part of people’s personal and business lives. It’s no wonder that companies are dedicating more branding and marketing resources to these channels.
In particular, social media marketing has taken great leaps in the last few years. Simple “buzz building” has evolved to unleash new opportunities for brands to engage with customers and consumers, deliver customer service and even conduct real-time market research. While some executives have not fully adopted and integrated social media into their overall marketing, others have made it an essential component of their brand-building strategy. However, while they are familiar with the rewards of this channel, not all marketers are aware of the potential pitfalls associated with it.
With every new communication channel comes challenges, and social media is no exception. Just as email spawned spam and phishing, and the Internet bred sites selling knock-offs and promoting fraudulent offers, social media is ripe for exploitation by brand impersonators, counterfeiters and scammers. Consider spoof accounts. These are sometimes created by satirists and others who wish to parody a company for entertainment purposes. However, they can also be created by people intent on damaging a brand or lining their pockets by confusing consumers who associate social media with transparency and trust. Because social media is touted as a way for brands to show their authentic, “human” sides, many consumers take brands’ social media accounts at face value.
In fact, the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer found that social networking (along with microblogging and content sharing sites) rose most dramatically from the prior year in terms of trusted sources of information about a company. Yet, research by Grant Thornton found that the majority (61%) of companies lack a plan for dealing with fraud or privacy breaches that occur via social media. In fact, many companies underestimate the importance of including a brand protection element within their social media strategy. Even the most robust social media strategy is incomplete without a brand protection component. The ability to identify and, more importantly, take action against brand hijackers, impersonators and others with nefarious intent is critical to ensuring the success of social media initiatives.