Thursday, 3 June 2010

Who owns your brand - you or your customers?

Any retailer that has survived the last 18 months has done very well and will be now looking at ways to attract more customers through their doors (both physical and virtual). With online sales continuing to rise, including social media elements into your online store is now seen as a "must-have". This may be a forum to allow shoppers to discuss their latest purchases or including an ability for consumers to leave reviews for particular products or stores.

Mary Portas has recently thrown her hat into the ring with the launch of a new website which enables the public to promote their favourite shops by leaving a review for them. While the terms & conditions make it clear that Mary's team will not pre-screen any reviews, they expressly reserve the right to remove material, no doubt to deal with unlawful content (e.g. libellous, defamatory or revealing confidential information) which may be reported to them using their "Report this Review" button.

While there can be no doubt that social media is is a powerful tool enabling brand owners to enlist the help of their fan base to do their marketing for them, giving your customers free rein with your brand is a risky business. Any brandowner contemplating the introduction of a social media element into their website should ensure they are aware of the potential risks, and have put in place strategies to deal with any issues as soon as they arise. In the virtual world, things move a lot faster and brand owners must be ready and prepared to tackle issues before they spiral into a legal and PR catastrophe...