Roger Cowdrey - International Business Consultant. Writer & Motivational Speaker
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Beware the double-edged sword!

I checked recently when I saw a tweet that said that the advantage of being over 40 years old is that you did all of your stupid things before the internet existed!

Then a day or so later I read about the social media debacle by Nutella. Apparently they ran a promotion where you could use the first two letters 'NU' and then add your own ending! 

Apart from the fact that they decided to tell us all that the start of the word is pronounced 'NEWT' and not 'NUT', hence sounding totally pretentious for a spread, this competition was like giving the asylum over to the lunatics!

Executives obviously thought that their product was loved and adored by all and that they would be inundated with loads of complementary or cute alternative labels! So imagine their surprise when personalised labels read diabetes, dysentery and poops!

In the old days you could have asked people to send in their ideas for personalised labels and used your power of veto. But today we have to remember that when you screw up, the internet allows your mistake to circulate across the world in seconds.

The problem of everyone in an organisation thinking that marketing is easy, coupled with the ease of putting something on the internet, is that the action takes place in isolation. People do not spend enough time looking at the 'what ifs' and the range of potential outcomes.

Social media gives businesses a real opportunity to communicate with their customers with an immediacy and intimacy like never before. However, that immediacy and intimacy needs to be managed properly. Suddenly we are talking to thousands upon thousands of individuals rather than the masses and we have to recognise that fact.

Just remember that just because it is easy, social media still needs to be subject to the same stringent review as everything else within the business. It is only by doing this that you can make sure that you cut with the right side of the double-edged sword.

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