8 Ways Social Media Can Hurt Your Reputation
The negative impact of social media on business is extremely important topic. If you own a business, chances are you’ve dabbled in social media marketing on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest or even TikTok. Since nearly everyone of any demographic is using some social media channel or other, you no doubt feel the urgency of being there too, and reaching out to your fans and potential customers in that way. In fact, social media can be a great way to market your business and build lasting customer relationships, if done correctly. But be careful! Social media is a very unforgiving atmosphere if you run afoul of other users. Even if you’re trying to do everything right, you could strike a “tone deaf” moment or have issues with hackers, trolls, disgruntled customers, former employees or even your competition. It’s a touchy situation. So get educated, be smart and learn all the ways how social media can ruin your reputation so that you can avoid these 8 painful situations.
Here are some causes of negative impact of social media on business.
1. Careless and Insensitive Posts
Unfortunately, in the relentless pursuit of relevancy on social media, some companies can drop careless and insensitive posts that may seem like a good idea at the time, but turn out to garner a slew of unhappy social media retweets, tags and shares that put the company in a bad light.
You should have a social media team that thinks through all of the implications of any social media post associated with your company. They should know what’s going on in the world and keep in mind how the company can be positioned as a positive influence, not a negative one. At the same time, just posting something supporting an issue for the sake of “looking” like the company cares is also a bad idea. Although social media users have the reputation for only showing the “good side” of any person or company, onlooking social media users can unleash withering criticism if they sense a lack of authenticity of a company’s posts. So post with care, post with sensitivity and be genuine all around to avoid the social media flames of doom.
2. Dull and Infrequent Posts
That said, you can be both careful and sensitive while also being exciting and consistent. It may seem like walking a fine line, and it totally is. It requires an acute awareness of what’s going on in the world, how it connects to your company and how you can make a difference that stands out in the constant raging river of posts. That means you have to post regularly and stick to your brand message, and make sure that brand messaging rises above the crowd, and particularly ahead of your competition.
3. Disrespecting and Shaming Others
This happens a lot on social media, and it’s not pretty. It’s also petty and will absolutely ruin your reputation on social media. Even if you are the recipient of disparaging posts or flames, keep your interactions above and beyond to show who has the class and calm to handle tough things. Using social media to disrespect or shame angry customers or your competition will turn more potential customers against you than toward you.
4. Not Responding to Posts
Social media is… well… social. That means you should definitely respond to posts on your channels—both the good and the bad posts. Customers who post happy reviews of you online should be rewarded with a positive shout-out and a sincere thank you at all times. If you get a post from an unhappy customer, there are very good ways of handling that so that it can turn out to be a good thing in the end. Learn about how to respond to a negative review or social media post the right way, and you can calmly, sincerely make things right with that customer in full view of everyone else watching while making things right again. In many cases, making things right for your unhappy customer on social media can definitely boost your reputation.
5. Responding the Wrong Way to Posts
Taking the last point a step further; you may be diligent about responding to your social media followers, but if you respond out of anger, vindictiveness, frustration or inattentiveness, you’re going to lose some reputation points there as well. It takes a lot of thought, care and energy to maintain your social media presence. You always want to be gracious, careful and sincere. If you need to apologize, then do it. It’s far better than trying to save face by blaming the problem on someone or something else.
6. Forgetting to Promote Others
People generally have a better impression of a company that likes to share positivity and that isn’t into constant self-promotion. If you worked with another company on a project, give them some serious props. If your company got takeout from a great restaurant, talk them up on social media. If you got a great piece of advice from someone, give credit where credit is due. Spreading positivity is a key driver of a good reputation on social media.
See also how to share and increase your reputation on social media.
7. Employee Posts
If you haven’t had a run in with a questionable post by an employee that resulted in people getting angry at your company, you have certainly heard of situations where that’s happened to other companies. Employees, at the same time, have lost jobs because of tactless and insensitive posts. It’s a very tricky, sticky situation because employees, while being part of your company and, therefore, defacto brand ambassadors, they are also private citizens with their own lives and opinions outside of work. There are some ways to work around this without stepping on too many toes, however. The most important thing is to have a strong, clear social media policy written into the contract that all employees understand from day one. Some good ones out there include the following points:
Requiring that employees make their social media profiles private (which is also a benefit to employees as it protects their information better also).
Requiring that if employees post about the company, they include a disclaimer releasing the company from any responsibility for the posts, and indicating that the post is solely their opinion and does not represent the company.
Mandating that private, sensitive company information never be shared, and that all copyright laws be upheld.
Many companies even go as far as mandating that any disparaging remarks about race, gender, ethnicity, religion or disability are not tolerated.
Make it clear that personal social media time is prohibited while on the job..
8. Privacy, Security and Legal Issues
It’s imperative that your social media policy sets out consequences for leaking private, secure company information over social media. And you need to be careful, then, who has access to this sort of information. Even managers and top brass in the company need to be very careful what they share on their personal social media channels. The lines can easily get blurred and accidental postings have happened and ruined reputations.
Now, if there is a troll or hacker out there who is bent on destroying your reputation, it’s important to fight back. Get legal counsel as soon as possible to explore all of the most effective options, and don’t fall to their level to get even.
Finally, understand that even one bad review, one negative Tweet, one disgruntled comment on your Instagram or Facebook channel will inevitably show up on search engines when someone is looking for the services or products you provide. If that makes you want to hide under a rock, please don’t. Although social media can be tricky and unpredictable, you can’t afford not to be there. Your customers expect you to be there, and you need to be there. Just be very aware, set clear policies in place for how, when, and what you post and be consistent, gracious, professional and positive. Most of all, don’t go it alone. Get alerts whenever someone posts a review with Reputation Builder and use all the tools it provides to help you build and protect your company’s reputation. You’ll be able to act quickly and respond the right way. It’s easy to use and you can start using it right away.