A topic which is both quite interesting and at the same time extremely important when it comes down to the mitigation of reputation risk for an organisation.
In recent years social networking law has expanded as fast as the technology itself. Website owners now have a serious duty of care to its users across all platforms.
A large reason for these disclosure obligations is a companies reputation risk. As stated by Malcom Burrows from Dundas Lawyers in his article about the ‘Legal risks of social networking for business‘ the most imperative risk to minimise in a social media environment is reputation risk. The intangible loss of reputation can significantly damage a hard earned brand in a very short time.
How can one prevent these risks?
- Block social media sites that are not part of employee tasks
- Introducing comprehensive social media policy to provide guidance to employees
- Engaging a social media reputation monitoring service
- Having a system in place to respond to complaints on forums sites and fan pages
- Having a documented social media strategy in place
- Preparing a crisis management plan to deal with a social media crisis
A great case study is what happened to Nestle over their dispute with Greenpeace. Greenpeace accused Nestle of “threatening the livelihoods of local people and pushing orangutans towards extinction”, due to their involvement with palm oil companies that are trashing Indonesian rainforests.
A rather gruesome video was uploaded as part of Greenpeace’s campaign, Nestle lobbied to remove it from YouTube citing copyright infringement. This wasn’t the greatest PR move and only caused more controversy and conflict.
Round 2 of the campaign took place over Facebook. Complaints and opinions were voiced directly onto the Nestle Facebook page.
Unfortunately for Nestle the administrator of the page retaliated with rude and sarcastic comments which only made the situation worse. Nestle had to eventually back pedal and apologies on behalf of the admin.
Nestle ended the contract with the palm oil company and the admins comments became a famous example of how not to engage with customer complaints.
Bridget Carey of the Miami Herald sums up the lesson of all of this pretty well:
“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all… Companies can learn something from this moment… Companies use social media to present a voice. When people are screaming at you, it’s best not to scream back.”
Moral of the story, be careful what you say online! Reputation is everything.