Social Media – The Online Tattoo

In Social Media by Marius Badenhorst

What you say on the web is forever and social media is the permanent marker on the white wall of the giant warehouse. By now you should know that Google permanently indexes everything said via social networking platforms. You can consider tweets, Facebook updates, LinkedIn messages and all other forms of social media updates to be an online tattoo. If not carefully planned and properly thought through these social media will be a tattoo on the forehead of your online presence… and that is not a pretty sight. Social media is a responsibility, not a job for the intern who knows about this “MyFace” stuff.

Before jumping head first into a social media campaign you have to ask yourself a key question; how much chaos can your organization handle? This question is not to be critical about the social media industry but rather a prudence concept; having foresight into the worst case scenario. When done correctly social media can offer an organisation many advantages. It’s not some magical tool which will transform every aspect of your marketing strategy, it’s not a unicorn, it’s just a horse; an extra drive of power into your branding strategy. Therefore it needs to be handled with care and caution.

“Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.”

A recent example of how a single tweet on Twitter can have massive effects on a brand is the Duke Nukem Forever Tweet.  The new Duke Nukem Forever game, owned by the 2K Games Company, was recently put out for review and an US PR agency, Redner Group, who were hired to handle the company and product’s social media campaign, publically threatened on Twitter to stop sending review copies of games to critics who had written “venom-filled appraisals” and that they would be put on the “blacklist”. The heated tweet was deleted as soon as the 2K Company realised the chaos Redner had caused. Redner, who should have known that this was a cardinal mistake in marketing, was fired by the 2K Games Company. Deleted or not, the tweet made the same impact on the gaming company who hired a PR professional to prevent this poor practice to happen. A private apology has been sent out to all that reviewed the game but the damage has been done.

“Monitor, engage, and be transparent; these have always been the keys to success in the digital space.”

Once anything is published on the web, especially social media, there will be an immediate readership. Information on twitter travels in a way and a shape which is different than anything previously known. Twitter (and other social networking platforms), should not be the place to tell the world what you are thinking before you had a chance to think about it. That being said, social media should still be authentic, conversational, and social. The bottom line is that you should tell the truth but still make it fascinating.

Another thing to take into account when jumping on the social media bandwagon is Google’s “New” Social Search. Social media will now not only have an effect on you PR strategy and customer relations but also on your Search engine reputation management strategy. This includes SEO and online content management and now also social media updates about your brand.  Keep in mind that it is not what you say about your brand, it is what other people say. Search Engine Reputation Management involves both social media marketing and social media optimization. Proper control of search engine results needs to be taken and optimization employed as well as marketing to manage and control damaged identities and reputations on the net. Ultimately you need to be engaged and generate spontaneous communication while utilising the proper tools and techniques available and staying aware that you are all the while tattooing your reputation and online presence.

About the Author

Marius Badenhorst