Many of you may have received complaints from consumers in the past referring to Social Media (SM) pages that are not yours – relating to fake products, fake competitions, phishing scams and other illegitimate activity.
You may also have had frustrating experiences where you need to access your brand SM page to run a marketing campaign or maybe even go to open a store and can’t access the page because the access details have been lost. This typically occurs where employees or agents who set these pages up have now left. You then must open a new page and the old one remains active which can cause confusion and lead to several “dormant” SM pages existing.
Auditing your SM presence will give you the information you need to identify risks and by combining this with a brand protection solution you can remove these threats and improve the customers digital experience with your brands via SM.
Let us dive into what a SM Audit is.
What is a Social Media Audit?
A Social Media Audit is the process of reviewing all Social Media entities pertaining to a brand (or brands) to improve digital hygiene.
When we talk about a SM audit, we are referring to:
1) Leveraging technology and subject matter expertise (SME) to identify, collect and categorize all SM channels associated with a given brand or brands into one inventory.
The categories of the inventory that are relevant for you may differ brand by brand depending on how your global SM channels are managed but typically we are looking at three areas:
- Authorized active pages
- Authorized dormant pages
- Rogue pages
2) By having an inventory broken down into these categories, it will give you visibility of what your consumers are exposed to on SM.
If you put the consumer at the heart of your business then this can be a very valuable way of seeing what risks they are exposed to, and the content they are exposed to that doesn’t align with your core objectives and values. It can also be the first step in regaining control over your SM presence through identifying those channels with lost access and rogue sites impersonating your brands.
Once you know where your risks are and the nature of them, you can tailor a Brand Protection solution that works for you to tackle these risks.
Why does this matter and what are the issues?
As the world becomes increasingly digitized, consumers are spending more time on social media interacting with the brands they love. This increases their exposure to illegitimate or dormant entities, ultimately resulting in erosion of brand equity if not acted on.
The core reasons why a SM audit matters and the issues that need to be tackled:
- SM is the route to market for many brands and where consumers go to engage with those brands.
- The global COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more consumers online and with that a new demographic of users that may be more susceptible to fake competitions, scams, and rogue pages.
- Dormant pages often share outdated/inconsistent messaging which can cause consumer confusion e.g. wrong logos, links to broken websites etc. and run the risk of being hacked.
- Bad actors are capitalizing on this, setting up impersonation pages which divert consumers towards their pages for several reasons.
Why do people set up Impersonation/rogue pages and why this matters?
Bad actors are always on the lookout to increase traffic to their websites and trick consumers into purchasing illegitimate products or handing over their personal details. Impersonation and hijacking brand keywords / trademarks are seen by bad actors as easy, cost-effective methods for profiting off vulnerable consumers.
There are several key reasons why impersonation/rogue pages are set up:
- To funnel well intentioned consumers towards fake competitions they are running which often lead to phishing scams that aim to defraud you. Many ask for bank details or expose you to malware and adware.
- To trade in counterfeits or other IP infringing products
- To trade in non-IP infringing products that are unrelated to your goods; nevertheless, they are using your brands to channel consumers to their pages.
- As rogue fan accounts, set up to share inappropriate content or use offensive language which if your target audience are families or young children can be very damaging.
Ultimately all of this can mislead or confuse consumers which leads to a negative digital experience associated with your brand. It is damaging to your brand reputation and trust and confidence in your brands and will result in an increase in consumer complaints.
Benefits of identifying and resolving these risks
By undertaking a SM Audit, your business can build a full picture of the SM landscape and view what your consumer sees. From protecting consumers to refocusing your marketing campaigns, the benefits are felt across the business.
1) Know where you need to reclaim control of your SM presence to streamline the release of new marketing campaigns.
2) Removing unauthorized channels will Increase the visibility of authorized channels thereby channeling more consumers to those pages which may lead to an increase in revenue generation from SM commerce.
3)Tackle issues that harm consumer trust by removing impersonation pages that engage with consumers on behalf of your brand or offer infringing and sometimes unsafe products for sale. This will also lead to a reduction in the number of complaints you receive from consumers online.
4) Protecting consumers from cyber threats in the form of fake competitions/scams which aim to defraud the victims, and from exposure to inappropriate/explicit content which you would not wish to be associated with your brand.
What do you need to overcome these issues?
A combination of a Brand Protection technology solution and subject matter expertise is needed to overcome issues flagged in your Social Media Audit.
Identify – Technology solution to go out and scour all SM platforms for channels utilizing your branding
- This can be a useful exercise to understand the nature of those risk faced on Social Media which can feed into your wider BP strategy
Categorize – SMEs
Remove – Combination of both: Brand Protection solution
- This is where you need a tech solution combined with Brand Protection Analyst team to remove these risks using your IP assets and industry knowledge as the tools.
Target Customer Profiles – does this effect you?
- If you have a global brand presence then it is likely that you will be exposed to some of the risks mentioned with many brands running over many SM platforms across many geographies.
- This is exacerbated if you have a large decentralized management of your SM presence or outsource your SM management to external agents.
In this Whiteboard Tutorial, we’ve outlined what a Social Media Audit is, discussed why it is important, and listed the key benefits to your business.
To conclude, the core goals of conducting a SM Audit are:
- Identifying risks to consumers and your brand image/reputation
- Establishing a Brand Protection solution which protects consumers, improves the visibility of your authorized channels to those consumers and ultimately enables you to reach more consumers to drive e-commerce
If you would like more information on any of the above or think you might be exposed to some of the risks mentioned, please request to talk to an expert below.
Whiteboard Tutorial: Network Analysis
Not all infringers pose the same risk. The biggest threats to your brands are often network-level operators that are structured like agile multinational businesses.
Network Analysis is a core module of Incopro’s Brand Protection platform Talisman that powers a strategic approach to tackling networks. Access our Whiteboard Tutorial to learn why it is critical to discover and act against bad actor networks and how Network Analysis technology is used to connect entities together – online and offline.
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