Trolls never sleep – social media and the 24-hour business

One of the truths of social media is it gives idiots an opportunity to expose themselves for what they are.

For businesses using social media, idiots posting stupid or offensive content on the company’s site or Facebook page can do a lot of damage to their brand and reputation.

This is the problem Australian airline Qantas faced last week when some fool posted a pornographic image to one of the company’s promotions pages.

As The Sydney Morning Herald reports, the father of an eight-year-old reported an inappropriate post to the airline after his son found the image while visiting the Qantas Wallabies page. He was allegedly told by the company’s social media staff “there was nothing we can do about it”.

The father points out correctly that both the airline and Facebook are 24-hour operations, so claiming a post that is put up at midnight – one assumes Eastern Australian time – is out of hours seems to be disingenuous.

Until recently, businesses had given social media responsibilities over to the intern or the youngest person in the office. While organisations like Qantas have moved on from that, they largely leave these tasks with the marketing department.

While marketing is a valid place for social media responsibility – it’s probably the most obvious area to establish a return on the functions – it leaves organisations vulnerable to out-of-hours customer service and public relations problems.

Social media doesn’t knock off at 5pm and spend the evening at a bar like the marketing department, it’s on all the time and customers are using it to complain about problems while twits and trolls are gleefully posting things to embarrass businesses.

For those businesses who do operate on a 24 hour basis, and probably all big corporations, it’s no longer good enough for the social media team to just operate during office hours.

Smaller businesses have a different problem – most don’t have the resources to keep a 24-hour watch on their Facebook page but the effects of a social media disaster could be proportionally far greater – so they shouldn’t be overlooking regular checks on what people have posted to their business sites.

What’s happening in social media is part of a broader trend in the global economy that’s been going on for 30 years as the pace of business has accelerated. It’s something that all managers, entrepreneurs and company owners need to understand.

Paul Wallbank‘s latest book, eBu$iness, Seven Steps to Online Success, shows how business can get online quickly and cost effectively using web 2.0, cloud computing, social media and e-commerce tools.

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