By 2018 there will be 2.9 billion people on some form of social media, over a third of the world’s population. It’s estimated that 90% of American’s aged 18-29 use social media. These numbers mean that brands not only need to have a strong social media presence to engage with customers online, but they need to be aware of the various challenges social media brings. A negative experience for a customer who reports it on just one channel can tarnish your brand's image. When consumers talk about your brand online the conversation is significantly amplified.
Brands need to pay attention and become savvy on social media. It’s not enough to simply monitor the various channels to track brand sentiment; you need to understand the risks and how fraud and deception in the guise of your brand can do significant damage, to both your customers pocket and your reputation.
Be assured that fraudsters intent on scamming your customers will always find the weakest link and exploit it. Unauthorized content ranges from impersonation and fan pages to the promotion of websites selling counterfeit goods. Fraudulent phishing pages that link to fake special offers can easily deceive customers or steal their credentials. Fraudsters will even lurk on social media and insert themselves in a conversation to promote phishing URLs.
Fake special offers for counterfeit goods can spread virally, since “Likes” & “re-tweets” spread the word and amplify scams. Re-tweets can be seen as endorsements. Counterfeiters can cash in on fake social media sites via direct debit tools.
The challenge is that you, as the brand owner, cannot easily track where a scam originates. They can spring up out of nowhere and disappear quickly, with another springing up. The consumer invariably blames the actual brand when the offer fails to deliver as promised and may take to social media to defame your brand compounding your problems.
Social media is a constantly flowing conversation that can easily seem overwhelming. But there are things that you can do to protect your brand. A social media policy is helpful in defining the rules of the game for both your own employees and external partners and distributors. Proactively register your brand on new Social Media sites, even ones where you don’t plan on maintaining an active presence. This will prevent fraudsters from “brandjacking” your good name on a site you are not active on.
Establishing a policy for partners includes developing a template for affiliates representing your brand on Social Media sites. Ensure traffic is sent to your own homepage or approved affiliate destinations. Don’t overlook monitoring affiliate sites to check there are no links to sites selling counterfeits, or sites which are unaffiliated.
To access a recording of a recent webinar where this topic is discussed in more detail click here.