Social Media

Social Media – How to Manage Reputational Risks – for Leaders

The bigger your company is, the more likely it is there are people among your staff that just. don’t. know. better.

Unintentional or not, sloppy use of personal social media can be a real threat to your company’s reputation.

Dissatisfied employees who moan and groan about their work on social media can bring the morale of the whole staff down since colleagues are often a part of each other’s networks. So, even if they’re not naming your company, the posts have an effect. And if you have clients befriend your staff, the potential damage spreads even further.

Of course, the situation gets worse if the employee actually does use your company’s name. Then, the negative posts start to come up in internet searches when your potential customers are looking into your company.

What about if your employee posts something else dubious – something racist, threatening, illegal etc.? Even if they aren’t mentioning your company in the post itself, social media has a mind of its own. Employees can be tracked back to you, and the reputation nightmare will be imminent. You will be held responsible for employing them and you will be expected to react swiftly.

Be prepared to deal with issues like this, to make sure your company’s reputation suffers as little damage as possible if and when the time comes. Follow the path below for successful risk management.

Step 1 Social Media Policy

Having a set of clear guidelines for social media conduct – and informing every staff member of these – is the first step in risk management. Make sure your employees understand that even protected or private posts and messages can be distributed widely, e.g. through screen shots. Train them to know the possible consequences of these actions.

The social media policy should also have a Plan B for when things do go wrong. Every employee should be familiar with the agreed action plan if they are faced with situations that require damage control.

Step 2 Monitoring

Often, when something adverse hits the company’s reputation people start responding to your company Twitter handle or commenting on your Facebook page, but you shouldn’t just trust that. The earlier you’re aware of potential reputation-damaging situations, the better you’re prepared to manage them.

Of course, you don’t have time to keep an eye on every employee’s feed, but make sure to follow relevant keywords and brand terms online to know what’s going on in your industry.

Step 3 Responding

When something happens, your reaction should be immediate, open and honest. Keep a cool head and evaluate the severity of the situation to determine the best next move. Communicate your side and take on the story – and tell your audience the steps you’re going to take on the matter.

Step 4 Reflection

When the situation is over, go back and learn from it. What led to the situation? Could something have been done to prevent it? Was it handled correctly and efficiently? What was the total damage done? Use the situation as a way to better your policies and processes for the future.

It’s not possible to have a bulletproof plan to prevent any mishaps from ever happening. But with good preparation and reaction strategies, you can reduce the likelihood of them emerging, and at least try to control the damage they can have on your brand’s reputation.

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