How to manage your reputation online and avoid a social crisis

General

Whilst scanning my Twitter feed this morning, I stumbled upon this re-tweet from BBC Radio presenter, Jeremy Vine.

Curious to find out more, I instantly went to the Plough Pub’s twitter timeline to see what the ‘Digital Nightmare’ was all about. It turned out that a disgruntled employee had tweeted several highly critical comments about the sacking of the Chef, including comments casting aspersions on the origins of the pub’s Australian steaks and treatment of staff.

At the time of writing, these tweets had received over 3,000 re-tweets, as well as being picked up by major media outlets, including The Independent newspaper. Probably not the kind of pre-Christmas publicity the Oxfordshire pub was hoping for.

This is simply another example in a long list of twitter disasters that happen when a business’ social media presence is not being closely monitored by senior staff. So how do you manage your online reputation and avoid finding yourself at the receiving end of an individual’s wrath?

Change the password
Yes, you are undeniably going to have to allow your staff, and sometimes several members of staff, to have access to your social media accounts. However, you need to know and control the passwords at all times. Should you be faced with the unpleasant task of dismissing or reprimanding staff you need to be able to change the passwords BEFOREHAND to ensure that they cannot seek their vengeance via your official account.

Monitor your brand
So you’ve hired a marketing exec. You have a social media manager. Your PA looks after the social media – whoever is responsible for your online reputation, you still need to monitor their activity and keep an overview of what is being said. If you don’t have the time to constantly monitor your accounts (and let’s face it, you probably don’t or you’d be doing the job yourself), a quick search morning and night will alert you to any rogue activity. Alternatively, ensure you have access to the mailbox associated with the account, in which case should there be a dramatic increase in activity notifications, you can take a look into the cause.

Have a social media policy
Whilst this is not a fail safe way to ensure you never have any issues online, it may make your staff think twice before taking action. Having a social media policy will make it clear that you are aware of abuses that can happen and that you will not tolerate any deliberate damaging of your company’s brand. This can also apply to their personal accounts too – so you can protect yourself from being subject to unflattering discussions on a personal Facebook account, which can be just as damaging as an employee hijacking your official social accounts.

And if all else fails…
Sometimes these things will happen. You can have taken all the precautions and someone will still manage to break out there and potentially destroy your online reputation. So to avoid this firstly try to minimise the opportunities. Be open, honest and truthful in your business and treat all your customers and employees with respect.

And if you still fall foul to a good old Twitter storm then take the humble route of apology – and do it quickly before things REALLY get out of hand.

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