The days of a corporation being able to control every word that goes out about its brand are long gone. And don’t get me wrong; I think it’s for the better. People are smart, and they like making decisions based on the truth, even when not everything that shows up is positive.
That said, sometimes B2B social media comments or posts can cross the line, especially when bad language is involved. This can happen in a number of circumstances, and the key to getting through it intact is being prepared before it happens. Here are some scenarios and how to prepare for them.
- Employees Using “Colorful” Language on Social Sites
During the day, Jane is a whiz at lead generation for your company. However, at night, she talks about her soap opera-esque life on her public Facebook page. Problem? I think there is a line, and employees need a clear social media policy to understand where that line is. At minimum, employees need to understand that what they do in public can affect your company.
If unprofessional online behavior becomes a problem on your team, offer training on privacy controls and b2b social media best practices. Just be careful; you don’t want to lose that great sales person because they don’t understand what is okay and what is not. Having a clear policy on what is appropriate and providing proper education is the key here.
- Ex-employees, Competitors, and People who Just Don’t Like What You Do
Some people love your brand, but some others don’t. Those who don’t may want to express their frustration using colorful language, including curse words. When this happens, it is often advisable to reach out to the person and ask them to change their language, especially if it is on one of your company’s social pages (such as your Facebook Page, or a message forum you’ve developed for discussion of your product).
If they don’t change it, then I recommend deleting their post or changing it yourself. This is because your company controls the content on these pages, and if you leave up the inappropriate language you may appear to be condoning it.
If this happens on a site that isn’t directly connected to your product, such as Twitter or someone else’s Fan Page, I suggest commenting that you understand their complaint, but also that you think the language they are using is inappropriate.
- Twitter Followers with Adult-Only Content
We sell a marketing automation product that is consumed by other businesses. Adult businesses could be consumers of this product. I don’t really want to make some customers upset because I follow others on Twitter that sell products that some may find questionable. Because of this, anyone who follows us on Twitter will be followed back, even if their business is adult in nature (but pending that they don’t seem overly spammy).
That we follow back shows support for our customers, rather than a recommendation of their products or services. That said, be prepared with an explanation for your CEO when he notices you are following @SEXY-CRM-GRL or @NAKED-IT-EXPERT (just examples).
Don’t get me wrong – social media is about real people, and real people curse. I know; I am typically one of the worst. But at the end of the day, you want to make sure that your customers and prospects aren’t going to be offended by the content they find surrounding your brand. This is often controllable, but only if you properly monitor social channels (including looking beyond Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter), and follow-up quickly on any issues.
P.S. Wanna see if you curse a lot on Twitter? Check out Cursebird, a real-time feed of people cursing on Twitter, which can tell you how many “bad” words you have been using, too.