Web of lies: being honest with your brand on social media

Most of us put our best foot forward on social media. We untag ourselves in awful Facebook photos. We flood our Snapchat stories with seemingly endless moments of fun. Instagram is pretty much a worldwide competition for whose life looks the best.

For brands, it’s a similar story. Many companies try their best to maintain their image online, hiring people to run their social media channels and make sure their feeds are regularly updated with quality content.

But while we expect filtering in one way or another, brands that are dishonest on social media will face backlash once they’re found out. And they will most likely be found out.

Faking positive reviews is one common dishonest practice. A lot of people look to online reviews before making a purchase, so some companies think they can get ahead by writing their own, paying others to do so, or even deleting the bad ones. But people aren’t easily fooled: a quarter of consumers have seen fake reviews online. If your brand’s goal is to come across as devious, slightly idiotic, or looking like you have something to hide then this is a pretty sure-fire way to get there.

However, when it comes to working with social media influencers — people with huge followings on various platforms — the lines start to get blurry. Companies regularly pay to have their products used or reviewed by influencers for exposure but the lack of transparency in these transactions often rubs consumers the wrong way. Guidelines have been brought out by various regulatory agencies to encourage social media influencers to disclose their paid-for posts as advertisements but these aren’t always strictly enforced.

Buying followers is another dishonest practice. For as little as £2, anyone can inflate their follower count on social media. While some argue it’s a pretty logical way to attract popularity, you just end up looking like you can’t attract real followers. Bought followers are also unlikely to be a permanent fixture as social media sites like to delete fake accounts from time to time.

Lying on social media will have the same effect on your brand as lying anywhere else. Expect negative publicity, a hit to your reputation, and a loss of credibility and trust.

So don’t disregard negative reviews — listen to them. Make sure the influencers you work with know to put disclaimers in their posts. And if you want people to follow you and talk about your brand, make interesting content! Social media is an opportunity for your brand to show some personality. Make people laugh. Make them think. Motivate them on Mondays. Your social media is yours to do whatever you want with it. Just be honest.