Don’t let your business trend for the wrong reasons
Today, private opinions that your staff express on social media can, ultimately, affect your company’s reputation. THATO TINTE looks at social-media usage guidelines for employees and how these risks can be managed.
Perhaps you thought nothing travelled faster than the speed of light. Today, however, it may be safe to say that nothing moves faster than the internet and irresponsible social media posts _ ask Penny Sparrow, Velaphi Dlamini, Chris Hart, Gareth Cliff and others.
After the individual naming and shaming, the companies at which these employees worked also began to bear the brunt of their employees’ conduct. Estate agency Jawitz Properties, Standard Bank and M-Net were put under the spotlight as pressure mounted for them to prove that they didn’t endorse or condone the views expressed by their employees.
This can happen to any employer _ so how do you ensure that it doesn’t?
According to audit firm, KPMG, organisations need to be aware of, understand and manage the risks that online conversations may present to their businesses. This means that companies must watch what their employees and the public are saying and be careful how they respond to online conversations.
A 2011 study, by global public relations firm Weber Shandwick, on how corporate brands and reputations have evolved, showed that 70 percent of consumers surveyed agreed that they would avoid buying a product or brand if they didn’t “like” the parent company behind it.
The report revealed that consumers expected more from leading companies and had no trouble “boycotting” those that fail to live up to their standards… Any disconnect between corporate and product reputation triggered sharp consumer reaction, which could, ultimately, affect the bottom line.
How businesses manage their social media reputation is important. International online reputation management company, Igniyte, advises companies to “strike a balance” between having stringent social-media policies, which set out appropriate and inappropriate online behaviour, while still allowing employees to have a relaxed social-media culture that takes their opinions into account.
Employees are a company’s ambassadors and it is important that they are educated on the pivotal role they play. Igniyte warns employers to never assume that common sense and good judgement will prevail when it comes to social media and employees. It suggests that a documented, well-communicated and enforced policy be shared, which clearly sets out the dos and don’ts of communicating on social media.
Igniyte recommends that social media policies should include: whether indirect company mentions (such as #IHateMyJob) constitute as inappropriate talk; what the rules are when talking about clients and customers; what content is deemed to be offensive and damaging to the company; and what information is regarded as private and may not to be shared publicly.
Igniyte adds that building a culture of pride and ambassadorship within the organisation is also worthwhile _ this way employees view themselves as part of the brand and not just numbers. Being proactive and enforcing a highly regarded corporate identity for all employees can help avoid running into damaging online reputational risks.