Reputation Protection In Social Media

SOCIAL MEDIA CHALLENGES WHICH BUSINESSES FACE

With the exponentially increasing reach of social media, businesses are seizing the opportunity to sell their products and services to millions of connected consumers. Discussions usually center on the ethical issues behind disclosures and fair representation but there are other ethical challenges like “digital assassination.”  The balance of power has shifted away from businesses to social media users, who are much greater in number than the resources businesses can allocate. A prevalent issue is how can companies participate in social media and protect their reputation from unwarranted attacks?

World Map of Social Networks - Source: Vincos Blog

World Map of Social Networks – Source: Vincos Blog

USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO PREVENT REPUTATION ATTACKS ON BRANDS 

Instead of managing social media reputation crises after they occur, businesses can use social media to prevent attacks on their brand in these ways:

  1. Be aware of what’s being said about your brand using monitoring tools – I use Google Alerts to identify information about a brand or organization in which I’m interested.
  2. Know who is copying your material and if it is being used in a negative way.
  3. Have active social media sites of your own through which you can respond to negative comments.
  4. Use verified accounts features to ensure users know which is your official site.
  5. Promote your fan communities
  6. Have a consistent, clear and truthful message

Source: Influential Marketing Blog – 6 Ways to Protect Your Brand with Social Media by Rohit Bhargava

WHEN SOCIAL MEDIA USERS ATTACK BRANDS

As if cyber saboteurs, trolls, hackers, and malware weren’t enough to worry about in the online world, brands now have to deal with the growing numbers of consumers who have found a voice through social media. Unfortunately many businesses act only after an issue becomes a crisis. An account of a hotel who refused a refund request resulted in a backlash which the author of the article deemed “far worse than the offense.” The cost of poor customer service has increased to the point that businesses must carefully manage their online interaction to minimize or prevent reputation damage.

SOLUTIONS TO MANAGING ONLINE ATTACKS

Here are some solutions suggesting a timely, respectful and ethical approach which may help businesses manage bad reviews, complaints and attacks through social media:

  1. Train and empower staff – they can make timely decisions which may resolve issues at the onset
  2. Put a social media policy in place
  3. Manage access to social media stringently
  4. Be aware of social media activity and respond immediately
  5. Solve the issue
  6. Publish your point of view asap
  7. Research the people behind unwarranted or malicious attacks to understand better what you may be dealing with. This may inform your course of action.

Source: Protect your business from a social media attack (Jan 21, 2014 – Writer Daniel Edward Craig on ehotelier.com)

GUIDELINES FOR THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Several guidelines exist to ensure both the consumer and businesses are protected.

  1. WOMMA’s Code of Ethics
  2. Bloomberg’s Business News Advisory (Social Media Law and Policy Report)
  3. National Advertising Division
  4. FTC Guidelines (Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising)

There are also legal guidelines for various industries. FINRA’s is one such example. The basic tenet of all these guidelines is fairness, honesty, transparency through disclosure and ethical practices.

CHECKLIST FOR ETHICAL SOCIAL MEDIA BEHAVIOR (from socialmedia.org)

socialmedia.org website

socialmedia.org website

Socialmedia.org is a great resource for businesses operating in the social media space to help establish credibility and legitimacy and prevent or manage brand attacks through social media. Their “Three Guides for Social Media Outreach” are:

  1. Require disclosure and truthfulness in social media outreach
  2. Monitor the conversation and correct misstatements
  3. Create social media policies and training programs

SOCIAL MEDIA ETHICAL USAGE TOOLKIT

The socialmedia.org website also offer a Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit from socialmedia.org with great information, questions and examples for businesses and organization to self-police their social media behavior in these areas:

  1. Identity disclosure
  2. Managing personal and unofficial social media participation
  3. Social media outreach campaigns
  4. Truthfulness
  5. Advocacy programs
  6. Compensation and Incentives
  7. Agency and Contractor disclosures
  8. Assessing a social media vendor’s ethics
  9. Monitoring and Responding
  10. Policies and training
  11. Artistic and Entertainment Communication
  12. General best practices

-End-

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One thought on “Reputation Protection In Social Media

  1. I recently read an article on social media and reputation protection, which touched upon the issue of resource allocation and crisis management for social media specifically, and then I read your blog on the same topic. The difference between your blog and that article was astonishing and the reason I say this is because your blog focuses more on importance of reputation protection and monitoring of social media policies by regulatory agencies whereas the article talks about difficulty faced by companies, brand and even celebrities in protecting their online reputation with so much of monitoring done lately of the content posted on web. I liked that you have given references to all the agencies and their regulation policies and procedures, it was really informative.
    The balance of power has indeed shifted, as now the information hierarchy is not controlled by brands, but social media users. This in a way is beneficial as consumers have more power in their hands and companies pay much more attention to be more attentive to what we want rather than what they want to sell. However, at the same time I also think that it has led to misuse and exploitation of social media by consumers as people react to any move made by a company way too early without giving the organization enough time to correct their mistakes. Additionally it has also become really easy for people to spread rumors about organizations, which in turn could prove really detrimental to company’s reputation. I would love to hear your comments on this issue, and I would just say your blog was truly enriching.

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