In June 2011, Facebook’s page views hit the one trillion mark. Chances are that if you saw the number one trillion written down you probably wouldn’t even recognise it. For the record, it looks like this: 1000000000000. Or to break it down, it’s a million millions. Such a stifling digit implies thatthe number one trillion is still very much a figure of the future.The simple reason for this is that in today’s world, not many things need to be counted up to a number this high.

The use of the number one trillion for Facebook’s page views is testament to the pervasiveness of social media in the globalised world. Businesses quickly became aware that social media could be used as a powerful tool when it came to extending the reach of their marketing and advertising campaigns and growing their core user group. Of course on the other hand, there are others that have suffered the consequences of a negligent approach to social media management.Common pitfalls have included fraud, reputation defamation or exposure of sensitive information.

One of the most extreme examples of reputation defamation is the use of Facebook for anti-marketing campaigns run by the users. One such public relations disaster is Greenpeace’s sabotage on Nestlé’s South African Facebook page. The major catalyst for this assault was Nestlé’s use of palm oil in their products, which has been heavily opposed by Greenpeace for some time as its farming destroys rainforests. This very-public social media attack was deployed through the use of off-brand logos, potentially harmful videos, and a call to action for Greenpeace Twitter followers to attack Nestlé’s page.

The fallout was catastrophic: Nestle was caught off-guard and were completely unprepared for the attack. The current skill set of Nestle staff was limited; they were lacking the necessary knowledge when it came deciding on the best way to diffuse the situation.

Although this is an extreme example, there are a number of ways that a similar event can be avoided through effective risk management of social media.

Ford motors social media Chief Scott Monty, says that “one of the biggest issues is the issue of scale. If you are working for a successful brand there will always be more customers than there are employees, which means there will be many more conversations about your brand than you’ll be able to participate in.” So it is important to be choosy about which ones you are spending time on

Good examples of time well-spent could include engaging with a major influencer or giving fans special access to events or information. Conversations like these help to cultivate strong relationships, which in turn create a strong brand and a desirable corporate reputation.

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