Reputation – it’s something you cannot buy and will stick with you. It’s something that will speak before you do whether you’re a brand or an individual. It’s something that can take a very long time to build but can be destroyed with one simple act.rwsocial1

With the rise of social media it has become increasingly easy to damage a reputation on a large scale. Things can change overnight as Matt Steven found out. A recent case of this has gone viral on Facebook this week after a girl, Pippa McKinney, posted a picture of herself on a night out to locate a boy whose number she had ‘taken down wrong’. This innocent post searching for love quickly turned into a social media scandal when she found out who Matt was.

Unfortunately, the boy in question already had a girlfriend who happened to stumble across the image and managed to tag him in it. So far, this post has over 15,000 likes, 1,5000 comments and 2000 shares. This just goes to show, what happens on a night out no longer stays on a night out. In fact, it’s likely to pop up on some form of social media and can land you in trouble before you’ve even realised what’s happened. This mistake has now been published on The Lad Bible, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Mail and in the Manchester Evening post, clearly damaging the reputation of this boy for the foreseeable future.

rwsocial2Another recent case saw a high flying marketing whizz in America being fired from his job after posting a Facebook selfie with a co-workers son alongside racist comments.

Gerod Roth, named Geris Hilton on Facebook, posted the image on his personal Facebook page on the 16 September and it attracted comments from his friends calling the boy a ‘slave’ and ‘starving’ while Roth joined in on the discussion calling the boy ‘feral’. When his boss was made aware of this information, Roth was sacked from his position at Polaris Marketing Group for his ‘disgusting’ behaviour. This obviously had a clear impact on his reputation within the company.

Individuals aren’t the only ones who can suffer reputational damage from social media activity. The actions of an individual can reach further within a business or brand. A prime example is Dominos, where two employees filmed a prank in one of the restaurants kitchen and decided to publish it online. Within a few days, the video had over one million views and had caused a serious public relations crisis for the company with negative conversations spreading all over Twitter. Customers who had been loyal to Dominos for many years were questioning their rwsocial3relationship with the company based on this one incident, highlighting how one action can cause serious damage to company reputation.

By not keeping on top of your social media, you could be putting your brand at risk; at the very lease you should be listening. Even though Dominos responded to the crisis within a few days, the damage was already done.

There will always be crises’ to deal with when working in business, so here are our top tips to help manage your reputation online; particularly through social media:

• Monitor your social media pages and tags frequently – you want to keep on top of the conversations around your brand whether they are good or bad.
• Have a social policy: be about what is and isn’t acceptable on social media with employees.
• If an issue arises, the important thing to remember is to respond quickly and rationally.
• Have an issues handling plan ready to manage risk to reputation.
• Don’t ignore negative comments, even the ones you consider to be ridiculous or irrational. You want to be seen to be addressing issues, especially when they are posted on public platforms for all to see.
• How you respond to bad comments or press has to fit with your brand values so consider these before posting your response.
• You should demonstrate how you actually deal with issues – no one wants to work with a company that is all talk and no action.