How to lose friends and influence people

The power of influence is an incredible thing. One of the main end goals of PR, the ability to influence people takes time, skill and usually a carefully planned communications strategy.

Unless you’re Lewis Hamilton. In which case it’s pretty much instant.

A twitter rant about a casino, a questionable snapchat video and a selfie taken whilst driving a Harley Davidson (which resulted in a police investigation), made for an eventful mini holiday for the F1 racer last month ahead of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. Our guess is that Hamilton’s #PRfail after #PRfail probably wasn’t part of his publicist’s plan.

Your reputation in the hands of social media

The Hamilton social media debacle is an example of how social networking has made the flight or failure of a reputation dangerously instant. The ability to influence people is now immediate and posting anything on social media equates to digital publishing.

While celebrities can occasionally be a law unto themselves, it’s helpful to learn from their mistakes as well as their successes. After all, whether they realise it or not, they are individual brands. With 3.29 million Twitter followers it’s hard to imagine how Hamilton would forget the reach and impact of his social publishing efforts, but when your ego’s being stroked that much maybe the significance of your actions passes you by.

Devaluing social media devalues your business

Of course, there have been many “Hamilton-gate” equivalents in the business world, with instances of corporate social media gone wrong. But many of these are cases of mistakenly devaluing the role of social media and the skillset required to manage it within organisations, or worse, not considering how the audience will react and play with that social content.

Waitrose’s disastrous attempt at “I shop at Waitrose because…” on Twitter backfired with acute comedy timing for onlookers. It was less humourous for the brand. And the opportunity to demonstrate their humility in how they responded to the debacle was not taken.

Many senior management teams, company owners or directors are aware that they need to have a social media presence. But organisations with an inexperienced or minimal marketing function struggle to persuade them of its real value or the resource required to plan, execute and manage activity.

Who manages your social media?

Admittedly, social media can have many different functions including marketing, sales, customer service and crisis comms. But this is precisely why it should not be overlooked.

From a business perspective, social media messaging has the scope for instant and global reach regardless of how many followers you have. So it’s necessary to view social media as a major aspect of the marketing mix, integrating it into the ongoing communications strategy of any brand.

Without a set and integrated communications strategy, celebrities and brands alike are playing with fire in terms of their long term reputation. The case of Lewis Hamilton proves that the ability to influence people in this digital generation is rife and it is just as easy to lose friends as it is to win them.

Going global in an instant. Are you ready for that?

The crux of this is remembering that whatever you post on social media, it will reach someone. Preferably that someone will be your brand’s target audience and your post will slam home a reason to believe in your offering resulting in a click, a download, a sale, or whatever it is you’re measuring. But get it wrong, because you don’t understand your audience and the implications of what you’ve published, and you’ll definitely reach more people, it just might not be the message you wanted them to hear.

If you’d like to have a chat about social media strategy for your business or for a digital communications consultation, let’s talk.