The Power of Social Media and Its Potential for Negative Effects on Your Corporate Brand
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With the many benefits that social media offers for businesses and corporations, there is also the potential for negative effects that social media can have on a corporate brand or the reputation of a business online. Corporate executives and business owners need to be aware of the prospects for negative effects through social media before they appear online, go viral and rapidly spread.
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Corporate executives: Pay attention to the potentially negative consequences that social media can have on your reputation and your corporate brand.
Customers and employees can post testimonials on YouTube and other social media networks, whether they are happy or unhappy with a company’s products and services. Feedback is an important resource for companies and if a customer believes that he has no recourse if he feels “wronged”, that person could turn to social media to voice his concerns and tell the story he experienced with a company (in his own words). What does this mean to businesses? In some cases, if the customer is unhappy, it could be detrimental to company’s brand or goodwill.
Let’s take an example of an unhappy customer that flew United Airlines. Dave Carroll took his experience viral by posting a video on YouTube to distribute his thoughts about United Airlines after he flew on the airline and his guitar was smashed. The mere fact that the guitar was smashed was not the breaking point, but Dave apparently felt that United failed to take responsibility for his smashed guitar, so his recourse was to create a video and share it with the world. The video has been viewed over nine million times!
What does this mean to businesses and employees?
Now more than ever, companies need to take care of both their customers and employees. The potential for a reputation slashing is ever-present on the Internet and one bad experience can go viral and spread like wildfire. Businesses are no longer able to take advantage of their customers because unhappy customers and employees are using social media to fight back. Social media has given the Internet user a voice — a very strong voice that can be heard world-wide.
Tips for Businesses and Employees – Keep Negative Effects of Social Media to a Minimum
So, what is the answer? Protect your online reputation. It is extremely important and, now more than ever before, an online reputation is crucial because once something goes online, it can go viral and be seen by millions.
Business owners and company executives ask...how can I protect my online reputation?
- Stay in your customers’ good graces. Many companies send out “feedback forms “ or “online surveys". These feedback campaigns can be launched after a sale or a follow up to a recent change the company has implemented. These types of campaigns are important for a company because if a customer is unhappy, the company can spot the problem early and remedy it before it spirals out of control. In the above example of United Airlines, if the company had taken more responsibility for the smashed guitar, it is likely that Dave Carroll might have created a video pronouncing their greatness, rather than the video that was created by David Carroll which spoofs their irresponsibility with his personal property.
- Your boss is watching! Company executives need to think twice before posting anything private online. Rather than posting something about your personal life, such as a divorce or a late-night party, it is better to have a verbal communication so that the consequences could not jeopardize your career. Remember, you boss or any prospective employer could be watching your online profile.
- Pictures posted online need to be tame. Never share pictures of anything that can be misconstrued because the old cliche “a picture tells a thousand words” is true with social media. Anything you post online is fair game to be shared with an employer or a potential customer.
- Never complain about your boss online. Employees should never post anything about their employer online without first checking with the company and reviewing their policy on social media. If you are having a tough day at work, think twice before posting something negative about your boss or your employer.
- Social media and customer service is good, but plan appropriately. Businesses that use social media for customer service need to be sure that their key-decision makers are trained in the ever-changing field of social media. Many large corporations use social media to improve their customer service experience. Companies such as JetBlue and H&R Block are just a couple examples of companies that use Twitter for light customer service. However, if your business plans to do the same, be careful with whom you put in charge of the company’s social media account, in this example, Twitter. Be sure that your employees are well trained in using social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Take a moment to read more about social media rules of conduct at our Facebook etiquette blog post.
Social media is positive for businesses, but think twice before launching a social media campaign.
Social media networks offer an excellent way to stay in touch with friends and build your network as well as grow your corporate brand in a positive way. But think twice before posting anything online because it can be viewed by anyone. If negative comments ARE posted by anyone – either a customer or an employee, never ignore those comments. Address them appropriately and your business brand and company reputation will improve.