By Bartosz Baratowicz, Copywriter
Social media represents a wide variety of potential benefits for marketing and brand awareness. Online platforms not only aid the ability to reach extended audiences, but also create a means to establish personal contact and connections with new and current clientele. Although, as always, unfortunately blemishes can still appear in some instances, with for example defaming actions run by fake profiles causing potential damage to brands.
Due to the increase in fake accounts and their malign intent, protecting your brand’s name is a mandatory aspect of initiating social media presence. It is noteworthy to know the equivocal benefits and dangers of the brand’s online presence.
Ensuring brand safety should be a top priority when dealing with social media platforms. Fake accounts, lies, and defamation are just a few examples of the issues that can occur online. Some individuals specialise in shattering the image of firms on social media, or internet forums, simply for personal gain. Developing the ability to understand these threats and concepts will go a significant way in protecting the brand’s name. Afterall, we can not fight what we do not understand, right?
There are many ways to deal with the damage caused by falsifying news and disinformation. Social media platforms like LinkedIn are actively working to stop the spread of fake accounts and profiles. LinkedIn is arguably one of the most influential communication sites, and during the last two years has become the top communication channel for both companies and personal use. In an era of growing online propaganda, we all witnessed a plethora of fake profiles and news surrounding the invasion of Ukraine. LinkedIn quickly responded to the possible threat of misinformation spreading on their platform and actively blocked fake accounts. Following the strong example from LinkedIn, below we have listed some tips to help protect brands online.
Notice and Respond to Fraud Online
The Internet serves as a limitless source of information, from recommendations and reviews to available brands and products. It is essential to stay on top of these communication channels occuring, monitoring commentary and opinions that relate to a company’s name, as well as social media activity. This monetization will not only allow you to identify trends and take advantage of relevant conversations, but also better enable you to respond accordingly to falsifying content and misinformation. When fake profiles spread misleading content, the brand’s merited prestige is at stake, and the communication team has to act quickly to neutralise the damage as much as possible.
Fake profiles may target brands’ reputations online and spread disinformation about them. For this reason alone, building a robust, cunning, and responsive PR team is essential to prevent potential crises. It is commonly seen that fraudsters create fake accounts in the name of a brand, promising limited offers to entice customers, and then stealing their personal information. Notably, Capital One was once targeted by fraudulent activity. A fake profile of Capital One on Twitter posted a phishing link that was promising new bank account updates, report checks and other features. Unfortunately for users who did not spot the red flags, they faced potential monetary losses. Thankfully Capital One was able to use its knowledge and know-how of fraud, to respond to the crisis in a speedy and positive manner.
Not only is the diminishment of fraudulent threats beneficial for your company internally, but further strengthens the brand’s empathetic reputation. Brands and organisations that spend time protecting clients from threats, will in the end, win the trust and confidence of the public.
Fraudulent Activity Damages Advertising Campaigns
In recent years, social media has become the main marketing communication channel for brands globally. The enormous number of users on social media propose unparalleled advertising opportunities. On the other hand, this is a chance for fraudsters to masquerade under the brand’s name and defraud customers. Companies are spending approximately 20% of their annual budget on social media promotions, and fake profiles thus pose a real threat to the value of these campaigns. Notably, scammers and con-artists are specifically targeting advertising content; around 67% of fraud activity is detected within promotional commercials.
To prevent this and neutralise threats as much as possible, brands must follow and check social media for possible imposters of their company. Reporting will result in blocking such accounts from posting damaging content. The reaction time is more than important, it is essential to prevent damage from shattering a reputation.
Respond to Fraudulent Activity Head on
In any case, remaining silent is probably the worst reaction a brand can give to the public, analysing the situation and issuing a statement is key to the effective management of the crisis. Brands that experienced a cyber attack, disinformation by fake profiles, or outright slander should know that writing a public release statement is vital to saving their reputation.
Without a proper and accurate response, the public may not be aware of the false information and therefore form a negative opinion on the brand. In the case of slander on social media by fake accounts, brands should be transparent and inform their clientele of the entire story. Additionally, corporations have to notify the public about the steps the company will take to manage a crisis and prevent future mishaps. This will in turn go a long way in winning back the trust and belief of customers. Have you ever heard honesty is the best policy? Well, its true, it is classed as one of the most respected aspects of a personality, and thus brands should use this to an advantage.
Loyalty Defends Reputation
Building a solid and credible reputation should be a priority for any company whilst establishing social media presence. In terms of defamation, case studies show that loyal customers are often quick to spot differences and call out fake profiles before they can inflict any damage. Moreover, social media users can report fraudulent activity of fake accounts and repercussions, leading to banning harmful profiles. Therefore, there is no doubt that building and maintaining a loyal customer base, in turn helps brands to protect their name online.
The Internet has 4.5 billion users, from a business perspective that is an enormous potential clientele. However, establishing and then maintaining an attractive reputation is not an easy task. According to a study in the USA’s market, over 60% of customers avoid companies that are attacked by fake profiles. If a person searches for a company’s website online and sees a counterfeit version of it, that can cause suspicion and scepticism towards the brand in the future. Surprisingly, this is not a rare event; over a quarter of the USA’s customer base has experienced fake websites of legitimate companies. Moreover, 54% of consumers would distrust the brand if they saw a fake post about them. Although, astute brands can find a way to use this phenomenon to their advantage.
Initiating a team of experts that are wary of fake profiles and websites can help brands target and close them efficiently. Furthermore, the communication or public relations department can leverage the situation for the production of articles, raising awareness for other brands, and sharing the company’s story in a new light. Empirically, this type of response can encourage the public to follow the articles, see that the company is trying to facilitate change, and thus winning back some faith and loyalty.
Be Vigilant, Review, and Respond
In conclusion, it is unfortunate that the presence of cyber attacks and fraudulent activity is inevitable, therefore brands must ensure they are equipped with the relevant knowledge and response plans. Fortunately, we summoned up a few steps and ideas to help prevent online deceit, and make the crisis more manageable.
- Observe brand’s activity on social media: Fraudsters have been known to masquerade as recognizable companies to defraud clueless customers. Checking trends and hashtags surrounding your company’s name will significantly help to detect online trickery and deception. Detecting fraud before misinformation reaches the public saves valuable resources, and means a potential crisis is more manageable.
- Respond to misleading and falsifying content: The aim of fraud often is to leverage a brand’s reputation, to deceive and steal from the customer base. Therefore the monitoring of online activity and the necessity of a robust PR team is critical.
- Fraudster target marketing campaigns: We have seen many occasions when fraudulent accounts have hijacked the recognition of marketing campaigns for their criminal intentions. Thus, while launching advertising campaigns ensure you are extra vigilant, analysing all possible cyber threats.
- Prepare a public statement and earn customer’s trust: Astute is arguably one of the most desirable characteristics, brands can develop this elusive ability of turning difficult situations into beneficial events. In order to convince customers that your brand is protective and supportive during fraudsters’ attacks, release a transparent statement that acknowledges troubles and highlights future steps to prevent such occurrences again.
However, the best advice we can give you is to always remain calm and sincere. Customers eventually will find out the truth and they will know that your brand supported them. As always remember to stay vigilant, review in detail and accurately respond to the fraud.