First published on Mumbrella.

Companies who don’t admit their wrongdoings on social media will ultimately cause people to distrust them, says Joanne Jacobs, digital strategist, company director and managing partner at Disruptor’s Handbook.

Speaking to an audience at Mumbrella’s Finance Marketing Summit, Jacobs said: “What social media in some respects is encouraging amongst customers is a lack of trust in organisations that don’t fuck up. Frankly, if you haven’t actually been up front about things that go wrong you are not going to generate the same kind of engagement from your customers and trust from your customers.

“There is a problem here, PR generally speaking has always wanted to present brands as perfect and corruptible and there’s nothing that ever goes wrong in the finance sector ever,” Jacobs said.

Julie Delaforce, general manager at Quiip, said the United Airlines crisisis a good example for companies to learn from.

“You need to have  a strong strategic idea who your audiences are… otherwise you won’t succeed.

“If you are looking at a complete governance tool kit you are looking at really strong risk assessment, response protocols on how people should respond to a particularly high-risk event, workplace escalation chain, who else needs to be notified of these things?

“If something that could become a crisis hits you, you’ve got to respond to that in 15 minutes to one hour. Customers expect a response within an hour so what sort of things are you putting in place to meet those guidelines?” Delaforce told the room.

Jacobs added that customers want personalisation, therefore the information being shared with customers should not be the same for everyone.

“There is an issues with producing the same message for everyone because ultimately that is not personalisation, if we are going to have personalisation you will need to ensure that you are responding to individual needs.

“The issue is that organisations are not clearly seeing the opportunities that are arising from personalisation, they are not seeing the cost benefits that arise, because you can actually track social media, you can track it so it goes to customer sales, you can see exactly what particular message got through to what particular market,” Jacobs said.

Using Facebook as your only form of reaching an audience is also a mistake brands are making, according to Jacobs.

“If you are just focusing on Facebook you are missing one heck of an audience.

Trump has sealed Twitter’s fate as a place for stupidity, according to Jacobs

“We all know that Twitter is dying and Donald Trump has basically sealed the fate of Twitter because he has made it basically a place for stupidity.

“He has kept it alive in mainstream media but the younger generation are not using Twitter as much as they were before, so if you are going to use millennials it is a different set of channels you want to use and it is a different strategy from a standard broadcast strategy you would get on Facebook and Twitter.

“I am still perplexed as to why marketers around the world are not looking at ways of engaging through things like WeChat,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs also argued there is not enough focus on using social media as an engagement tool – instead, she said, there is too much emphasis on paid advertising.

“The issue is that there is still far too much attention paid to mainstream advertising and too little attention paid to social as an engagement channel, not as a marketing channel, not as a standard advertising channel, not as a broadcast channel but as a back channel as an opportunity to serve customers.

“If you are just using social media as a brand channel that you are just sending messages out there then you are failing, and there is not two ways about it, not only are you not saving your brand, you are actually damaging the brand.

“There is too much emphasis on the broadcast content and too little emphasis on the service,” Jacobs continued.

Concluding the session Simon Lawson, general manager at PHD Melbourne, asked the audience if they are comfortable with not being 100% safe.

He encouraged the audience to think about the consequences if they remove themselves and their brand from social media, including losing the opportunity to build your reputation amongst audiences.

“The rewards of being on social media outweigh the risks of not being 100% safe.”