last update:8 Aug 2012

Social Media - Possibilities and Pitfalls

Is social media part of your communications plan? It needs to be!


The feed industry is recognising the possibilities for using social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs to further their business. Feed companies are using social media to interact with their customers, build brand recognition, and create other marketing opportunities. Animal producers are more sophisticated today. They are using social media in their personal and business lives. Is it time for you to join in?
It takes effort to create a plan for managing social media. Clearly defined objectives for using the different social media platforms are essential. It also takes effort to ensure the messaging and communications are appropriate for your organisation.
Even if you don’t plan to use Facebook, Twitter, or blogs as a regular part of your communications plan, you need to have a plan to manage them.
Why? In a word - Recall.
If you are involved in recall incident, social media can be a powerful tool in cascading your message, but it can be devastating to your company if handled incorrectly. This can hold true even if you don’t have Facebook or Twitter accounts. The devastation can come from what others are writing on their blogs and tweets. The comments can come from customers, competitors, consumers, even from disgruntled employees. Current and past employees that are unhappy with your company can be the source of negative communications that are difficult to deal with.
Should a recall occur, at a minimum you need someone monitoring what’s going on with the social media sites. Monitoring will help prevent surprises and give you the best chance of responding in an appropriate manner.
How you respond to negative comments is a difficult question, and requires a lot of effort. Your recall preparations should include who will be responsible for responding and should probably be the same person who will deal with the rest of the media. Involve your employees in this process. They need to know how to respond when they are asked questions. Social media today turns every employee into a spokesperson for the company, whether they want to be or not. For these reasons, it is critical to develop the messages and ensure spokespeople stay on script. Employees need to know what they can and cannot say to the media, as well as their personal social media accounts. It is worth including into your employee handbooks or policy documents.
Cargill is not making any recommendations or providing legal advice on recalls.
How does your company use social media? How does social media fit into your product recall preparations? How has social media benefitted your company? Or hurt it?

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