The number of smartphone owners is expected to reach 36% this year (Statista.com); when you consider this has grown from just 10% in 2011, it’s easy to see that we are living through one of the greatest culture changes in history – certainly more than a passing phenomenon.
1) Photo (Time) Bomb
Of course, one of the most common activities for people with smartphones is posting news, pictures and updates on social media. And here’s the issue: this ‘mobile phone culture’ is moving and evolving so fast, it’s proving hard for everyday life to keep up with it.
And then there’s the statistics. They’re compelling to say the least and they bring the absolute power of social media into sharp focus:
- The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that 64% of people trust online search engines the most when conducting research on a business;
- 90% of people read online reviews before visiting a business;
- 84% trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation;
- 70% of consumers surveyed for a Weber Shandwick report state that they would avoid buying a product if they don’t like the company behind it.
2) A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words
So, if you think it’ll never happen to you, here are five (scarily easy) ways in which your employees could cause a social media crisis:
- An employee posts a photo from inside their office, unwittingly putting strategic plans or confidential files directly in the public eye.
- A conference delegate checks in with a picture that includes people who haven’t consented to being on social.
- Images posted online place a senior member of staff in an inappropriate or controversial place or situation.
- Images from operational sites show health and safety breaches – or a lack of suitable social media policy and procedure (and this could be more than just reputational damage in industries where safety is heavily regulated).
- The financial industry, so closely governed on what it can and can’t say when suggesting or recommending products could be easily compromised by a badly phrased comment on social media.
3) A Policy For Good
These examples show why employers need to consider the impact of their employees’ social media use on their brand reputation: with so many people having easy and unfiltered access to a worldwide audience, it is increasingly impossible to monitor what is said about a brand.
The good news, however, is that employees are perceived as more credible content sharers and they have loyal social media networks which gives them greater reach and greater influence. Creating a proactive and robust social media policy will enable you to harness the power of this collective voice and use it to your brand’s advantage instead.