Social media audits for business growth

13, Mar 2012

Social media can be a risky business but it is also becoming an important part of business growth. So how can you audit your internet intelligence and how does this feed into a commercial strategy?

Social media business opportunities 
The surge of social media and the pace of technological developments in recent years means that most organisations now have a social media strategy in place, aimed at using these channels to obtain new customers, boost their brand and grow their business.

With consumers spending more time than ever on social media networks, a whole new world of opportunity has opened for businesses to interact with customers on a personal level, helping them to increase brand recognition and web traffic, improve customer service and feedback, find a targeted demographic and even keep an eye on the competition. Most businesses are now sold on the benefits of social media.

But social media also poses threats to your business, and any strategy should also consider how to identify and counter any negative activity. What’s more, a thorough internet review and analysis can help to you avoid many of the pitfalls as you grow your organisation.

Counter negative comment
Just as positive information can be communicated rapidly to millions of customers and potential customers, negative information can follow the same path – having a detrimental impact on your organisation.

If such incidents arise, reacting quickly to correct false information, or responding appropriately to criticism, is essential. Social media strategies should take into account how you can protect your business and brand.

Grant Thornton’s Internet Intelligence team recently carried out a full internet review for a national charity, to understand how the charity is perceived online and to identify any examples of where its brand may be being used inappropriately.

The charity in question relies on public support and its strong brand to be successful, and the slightest tarnish of that may dissuade the public from supporting the charity or making a donation.

So we monitored the use of the charity’s name and logo online – to identify any potential incidents where they were being used without permission. The review identified a number of websites where the brand’s famous logo was potentially misused or not in accordance with corporate guidelines, enabling the charity to have those removed.

An internet review will also enable your company to identify any instances where your organisation is being used without permission, or for fraud. For example, creating a website with a similar domain name to yours and which is similar in appearance – and which can be used to divert customers – is relatively simple for fraudsters.

Internet intelligence for due diligence
In addition to identifying damaging material or inappropriate use of your brand material, internet intelligence can also play a crucial role in other business processes, particularly where a company is looking to grow.

For example, if in order to grow you are considering an acquisition, or to engage with a partner business, it is important that you avoid organisations that could damage your brand and reputation. A full internet review can be used to aid due diligence – analysing the company’s previous activity, association and even its own brand.

Similar analysis can be carried out when recruiting high-profile individuals. A thorough internet review can identify an individual’s involvement with inappropriate organisations, or views they may hold that do not fit in with your own company’s views and objectives.

For example, in an internet review for a company about to appoint a senior executive, our Internet Intelligence team found that that individual had been defrauding his employer.

Find out more on our Internet Intelligence web page.

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