Whether it comes from hackers, disgruntled customers, or is simply a backlash against something you post, negative social media content can destroy trust in your brand in a matter of minutes.
“Social media is the most immediate threat to your company’s reputation,” says Pete Knott, digital consultant at reputation management consultancy Lansons.
“If not taken seriously it can and will directly impact your company financially and culturally.”
Fake news remains one of the biggest challenges – despite machine learning crackdowns by networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
In May, for example, shares in the UK’s Metro Bank plunged 11% before it could shake off inaccurate social media rumours that it was facing financial difficulties.
And according to Ilia Kolochenko of Geneva-based internet security company Immuniweb, the consequences could potentially be much worse.
‘Dropping a bomb’
“Hackers can cause huge damage if they can find a way to post fake news on social media,” he says.
“Imagine if they managed to hack into the accounts and post a story about Iran dropping a nuclear bomb.
“The effects could be devastating – especially if other news networks picked up the story.”
Social media posts don’t have to be inaccurate to damage your brand, though. Sometimes, the truth hurts too.
In 2016, battery manufacturer Samsung SDI’s market value plummeted by more than half a billion dollars when Tesla boss Elon Musk tweeted that the company was working with Panasonic on its next electric car.
If not properly thought out, your own posts can also cause problems, as US bank Chase found out earlier this year when it was accused of “poor shaming”. It published a post suggesting customers with low bank balances save money by avoiding taking cabs and buying coffees.