Social engagement through online platforms has been a great leveller. From CEOs and company Presidents to junior staff, everyone tweets and retweets, posts and reposts marketing content. There is no distinction of any hue among them, with each trying to catch eyeballs for visibility and business generation.
That’s great for business as online marketing is free, other than the cost of creating publicity content.
Businesses embraced the social media to deal with negativity around their brands with consumers quick to air any grievances and let off steam online. With the fake news venom and competitive misinformation from rivals coming into play, the problems for businesses became manifold. An active social media presence, therefore, became imperative for them.
How Things Can Go Wrong with Free Mileage!
The result: for every commercial entity, from solopreneurship to industry giants, social selling is an integral part of its business strategy.
An interesting dimension to it is a hyperactive and narcissistic social media corporate brigade pushing whitepapers, thought leadership posts and blogs online for a collective assault on the market. Given that this is a simple way to reach millions of people through social portals such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, what can go wrong with free publicity?
Juvenile, Overzealous Staff Can Harm Business
I am ready to concede that it has the strength to lead to acquisition of new customers with the unlimited visibility companies can garner through a free online rein for their staff. Such mileage, though, is not without pitfalls and unintended consequences.
It is not difficult to see that some overzealous, juvenile employees do not just repost content but also add their own comments which may not necessarily be aligned with business objectives. What used to be a function of authorised company spokespersons has now become a free for all.
The positive part of it is employee empowerment and democratisation of the corporate culture!
Hunting Online – Business Reputation at Stake
At stake is business reputation, not just individual merit. Almost always potential customers have staff calibre as a key evaluation criterion. If that is exposed easily online that is damage done to the business.
Some even take it upon themselves to act as sales hunters through public activity on portals such as LinkedIn, even scoffing at competition. All hunting for customers must be done discreetly and privately through field engagements, not through public portals for the world to see. Such actions will betray a state of desperation even when a company is sitting pretty with market leadership and ground-breaking innovations that tap trends on the horizon.
A few social media missteps can seriously compromise business interests. Maximum visibility at the expense of corporate credibility can prove to be a fatal tactic. Businesses must exploit social selling without exposing their weaknesses.
G Joslin Vethakumar