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Social Media and Its Impact on Reputation Management

We live in an age where social media has redefined the rules of engagement regarding reputation management. It used to be that a company’s reputation hinged on how well it responded to stakeholder needs and whether or not it responded to stakeholder queries. While this still holds true, the impact social media has made on reputation management is far more significant than any other communications channel available today.

Social media is real-time and as such, reputation management is something that organizations today must consistently care about. A company today must not only act with immediacy regarding managing and maintaining their reputations; it must also remain a step ahead with regard to potential issues or problems that can mar its reputation. In today’s digital world, reputation management is determined not only by what a company posts, but what others post about your company – whether it’s in a blog, a photo tag, on Twitter, Facebook, or in reply to a public status update.

Domino’s Pizza learned this lesson the hard way. You may recall a video that had been posted of two employees at a Domino’s pizza franchise who decided to do some “interesting” things with food that then went into the product being served to the public. By the time Dominos’ corporate office took a stand on the employees and what had been posted, the video had already gone viral and the damage to the company’s reputation had been done. A lesson learned: social media waits for no one.

Understanding that a company’s social media is every bit a part of its brand image and reputation, there are certain steps organizations can take to minimize the damage social media can impose on an organization’s reputation, including:

Hire an experienced social media manager(s) that knows your brand thoroughly, including understanding your brand’s voice, personality and stakeholders.

  1. Create and post moderation guidelines on your social media pages to inform others of what behavior will or won’t be tolerated with your social media communications.
  2. Respond to customer posts thoughtfully. Put some effort into a thoughtful reply that addresses stakeholders’ concerns. Show them that you care about their experience and are willing to address any problems with your brand/product/service they may have. Showing that you care can really pay off by building trust and enabling you to further nurture relationships with current stakeholders. And, if your current stakeholders are pleased, know that word-of-mouth recommendations from them are much more influential than your own brand messaging and will ultimately bring you more customers.
  3. Don’t ever lose your cool online. Even at times when you disagree with a stakeholder, provide the best information you can and do your best to satisfy every inquiry.

 Remember:

  • You will never please everyone
  • Sometimes, you must be willing to be misunderstood
  • If you truly believe in what you’re doing, you must be willing to stand by your decision, even if some people don’t agree with you.

 

As Warren Buffet noted: it takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.

By knowing the social media rules of the road, you can minimize the risk of having an online collision.