Social media can be a valuable tool, or a painful nuisance. It’s all about the effort you put in.
Far too much crisis management is done in reaction to negative circumstances, when the most opportune time is before trouble ever rears its ugly head. This certainly holds true for social media, where many organizations and individuals find themselves racing to protect their reputations from a deluge of negativity in response to an incident, rather than building a cushion of goodwill “just in case.”
In a recent HuffPost article, reputation management expert Michelle Jordan, whom we’re pleased to have available to us as a contractor, shared three steps to rethinking reputation in our social media-centric world:
Embrace the reality. Few of us often really understand the impact and the power that social media has on our lives, from the personal — such as our careers and reputations — to the global landscape, like the political change during Arab Spring. During the recent Boston bombings, Twitter feeds were nearly instantaneous with the event while news reports came minutes after.
Accept the responsibility. Similar to a methodically well-thought-out business plan, it is important to approach a public, private, nonprofit organization or family’s reputation conversation the same way. Like a capital asset, it needs to be monitored and protected from threats. To that end, consider creating an organizational or family mission statement with a code of responsibility that reinforces reputation as a core value. Conducting an online audit that includes ongoing web searches and Google Alerts, and a regular risk assessment that takes stock of internal changes are also part of the package.
Use reality and responsibility to your advantage. With both the understanding of the social media impact on reputation and the need to create a dynamic, thoughtful plan to create reputational responsibility, it is much easier to actually enhance and build a positive reputation.
Getting people to accept reality has been a hurdle for crisis management teams since the term came into existence. Fortunately for us, we now have the Internet, and it’s the work of minutes to assemble a list of reputation crises that cost 6 figures+, which should help convince just about anyone of the need to prepare.
Now, getting people to accept responsibility can be even more of an uphill battle. We’ve spoken to many intelligent people at successful organizations who just can’t wrap their heads around the fact that saying the wrong thing ONE TIME on Twitter or Facebook can result in their organization losing money, or worse. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming stakeholders for their reactions either, the sooner you realize that your actions dictate the way online conversation develops, the better off you’ll be.
You don’t have to love it, but you do have to recognize it – the ideal time to start in on social media crisis management is not during a crisis, but well before one ever appears.
The BCM Blogging Team