Reputational Risk: The devastating impact of the social media storm we face today


Reputational risk is a hazard to others’ good perceptions of your organization, products, services, or even you. Most businesses do a poor job of handling their reputations in general and reputational risks in particular. They prefer to concentrate their efforts on dealing with the risks to their reputations that have already appeared. However, this is crisis management—a reactive strategy aimed at mitigating harm, not risk management. Using this method exposes your organization to incur financial losses as a result of a tarnished reputation.


Social media is a powerful tool for small businesses seeking to build a brand locally or internationally and generate revenue online. Growing dependence on social media raises many issues for a small business, especially if you don’t have a large enough team to constantly check channels for inappropriate activity. This is not to say that large organizations are exempt from similar challenges.


Even large businesses have adopted social media to engage their consumers and grow their brands. The ability to send social media messages with the click of a button is appealing since it allows you to reach thousands of prospective consumers. In fact, especially when people were mandated to stay at home due to the pandemic, online presence became a necessity more than ever, with most transactions taking place online. In essence, this means that every organization is at risk of having its online reputation tarnished.


Who Are The Sources of Reputational Risk?


Nowadays, the person who breaks the story and puts your organization at risk has shifted. The growing number of sources and the speed with which information is disseminated makes restoring statuses, preservation, and building more difficult than ever for risk managers and security experts.


The revelations that put you or your business at risk of loss of reputation may include:


  • The firm’s approved third-party affiliates,
  • The company’s consumers,
  • The company’s critics,
  • The acts of errant workers, such as massive trading losses or flagrant fraud, and
  • Any other participant with interests in what the company does and how it achieves it.

Furthermore, IT (information technology) susceptibilities might jeopardize a company’s brand. Poor tech support, compliance problems, data breaches, website disruptions, insufficient disaster retrieval procedures, loss of data, system failures, and other issues are examples. The majority of them are related to the business’s support operations and customer service and may thus be directly experienced by a client.


The Devastating Impact of Social Media


Even though social media offers a 24/7 environment of cooperation and engagement, many businesses sometimes consider it a menace rather than an essential tool. As a result, understanding the power and effect of social media is critical for companies, predominantly marketers.


As company personnel, we must also be conscious of the possible implications of publishing or sharing information, especially while experiencing negative emotions such as rage or irritation. Posting obscene videos and photos, and retweeting offensive tweets, may often result in employment termination.


With social media, consumers now have a platform to express their thoughts and experiences with a brand or company. While social networks may help your business expand and attract new consumers, they can also subject your company to bad press and criticism. This might have a detrimental influence on the reputation and brand equity of your company. Take, for instance, a company’s corporate social responsibility stand.


CSR is held in high esteem by consumers, and an organizations’ engagement, or lack thereof, can easily be misconstrued. With social media so prevalent and information so readily available via the internet, it’s simple for potential consumers to learn about what their favorite firms are doing to help the environment. Individuals who realize companies have no current efforts and think they are contradictory may share the news through social networking platforms, which can enrage millions of prospective consumers and harm a company’s reputation.


Social Media Issues


Adverse and possibly viral circumstances involving your brand on social media are referred to as social media problems. Among the many instances include, but are not confined to:


  • Issues with client service.
  • Negative annotations or disputes regarding your brand that have been placed online.
  • Unacceptable comments have been made on your channels.
  • Negative publicity

If not addressed correctly and on time, social media concerns risk developing into a more severe crisis, with significant monetary implications to the organization.


No corporation or institution is immune to a social media issue. A social media crisis may strike at any time and from anywhere. It could be an enraged employee who publishes an unwelcome video online, a technological glitch that irritates customers, the start of a new campaign, or any other scenario.


Managing Negative Responses


Upon realizing there are defamatory posts on your social channels, the rule of thumb is to react to the mention as soon as you possibly can. Undesirable remarks that are not true are disseminated on a regular basis, endangering the company’s reputation. It is critical for businesses to handle unfavorable social media comments to limit the harm to their reputation.


First, you must ensure that you have clarified the information and that you are able to reply knowing all of the details surrounding an occurrence. Your answer must ensure that the consumer feels heard and that the problem is resolved. If the negative, deceitful remarks endure, businesses should scrutinize the legal options for removing such statements from all their social media sites.


Legal options include:


  • An interdiction application. This is a court order which may be sought to safeguard a right and is sought through application processes.
  • An action for defamation. This pertains to any remark made or broadcast having the effect of harming another’s good character.

However, the firm must validate the deliberate, improper dissemination of a defamatory statement about another person. A corporation can seek a prohibitory injunction, which prevents someone from making any detrimental posts, or an obligatory interdict, which orders someone to delete a bad post. A corporation, on the other hand, would have to prove that the solution sought fulfills the conditions of an injunction.


Legal solutions exist, but for social media, these are characteristically last resort measures that should be carefully scrutinized before they are pursued, mainly given the potential of the internet to “go up in flames”.


The Intensity of Damage Caused by Social Media


Decades ago, before the internet literally ruled our lives, complaints disseminated via a customer’s word of mouth. Actions were formerly neatly contained to a few close connections, interpreting the long single voices very ineffectual. In less than a year, sophisticated technology created a slew of social networks that reshaped marketing and whose social interactions have the ability to build or harm a company. Several incidents have demonstrated the power that social media may wield.


For example, a decade ago, Verizon Wireless dropped plans to charge consumers who paid their bills online a surcharge. Verizon reversed the payment policy when social media advised people to cancel their Verizon subscription by means of a petition that swiftly gathered 100,000 signatures on social networks. The damage might have been substantially worse, but Verizon realized that in their tremendously competitive business, it was critical to respond quickly in order to contain a brand image and limit public relations damage.


Another aspect is the accidental release of confidential company information. Individuals with intimate knowledge of your firm may sometimes accidentally reveal personal details, jeopardizing the firm’s competitive advantage. Decades ago, before social media, if you sent an email to the wrong inbox or a letter was sent to an incorrect address, you could recover it in good time, and the contents remained confidential. However, in the age of social media, the sheer volume of information means that once it’s out, it’s out. There’s no option for retrieval.


Employee Action on Personal Social Media Platforms


One of the most common social media hazards is employee action. A bad reputation caused by improper social media use may harm a company’s trust, income, brand value, ethical standing, and goodwill. Furthermore, cyber thieves commonly exploit data attained from workers’ social media networks to penetrate an organization.


For illustration, if you regularly post about sky diving on your personal social media accounts, it is obvious you are zealous about it. A cyber attacker can use this information to his advantage by sending you a malware link to receive a heavily discounted sky diving experience. This is one of the more commonly used methods on cyber-crime to infiltrate an organization’s systems, creating a data breach.


While it is imperative to monitor your worker’s social media accounts, you will need to manage how they use social media platforms. It is advisable to educate them on the type of posts that would make them vulnerable, thus exposing the organization and what type of activity they should be on the lookout for. This type of risk must be safeguarded at all costs, and managing your online risk is the first step to containing it.


Planning Is Critical


Proper preparation is essential to guarantee that the adverse impacts of social media do not prevent you from reaping the benefits of a more substantial web presence, more engagement with consumers, and a free chance to grow your enterprise’s reach. The best approach to reputation management is to deal with an adverse reaction as soon as conceivable to avoid a crisis.


When social media material is not regulated, many things can go wrong. Responding to social media posts immediately may help businesses protect their reputation and improve their brand image. Companies that monitor and reply satisfactorily through their social media sites, especially when receiving angry comments, are much more likely to retain a favorable brand image and reputation.


Having employees take corporate and marketing communication programs may teach them how to avoid and minimize social media hazards. Learning how to manage these risks may also help businesses and people retain a positive reputation.


The issue arises when businesses fail to monitor their social media accounts. On the internet, problems may quickly develop and spread like wildfire. To prevent this, Awesome Resources take the risk away by handling your online presence and managing it accordingly.


Ignoring Is Often Worse Than Responding


Some firms have, over the years, been guilty of the removal of ignorance of posts that they disagreed with or the allegation that they were hacked when they were not. Trying to hide or erase legitimate though unfavorable remarks might give the impression that you ignore a problem or, even worse, disregard your customers.


It is critical to be upfront and honest while dealing with all your company’s problems. If you have made an error, please accept it, apologize, and do all you can to fix it. Your customers understand that we are all human, and people make mistakes. Do not be misguided and think that your customers expect you and your staff to be faultless. Their anticipation is simple, just be open and honest.


Use Social Media to Your Advantage


Although social media marketing may be helpful, firms who are accustomed to offering a one-sided sale must suddenly learn how to build connections with buyers. A personal relationship with consumers is increasingly required for business marketing; initiatives that do not encourage your user to engage risk failure. Instead of issuing announcements about product lines, your company should create tales that showcase the culture of the product rather than merely detailing its specific merits.


Companies are finding it more difficult to keep bad news at bay. The advantage is that, just as negative publicity travels fast, positive publicity spreads just as fast. To fight bad client feedback, provide solid customer service via all of your social media platforms and make every effort to resolve a problem before it becomes a toxic scenario.


Using social media gives you the extra responsibility of monitoring statements and replying when appropriate; yet, the answer may be ineffective if the unfavorable comment has already done the rounds on social media. Contacting consumers who have had unfriendly experiences may often result in improved feedback. Still, it also has the potential to be dangerous, so proceed with caution while keeping a watch on the web.


Recognizing the role of social media in the consumer brand connection, how these ties are formed, and understanding the variables that impact the bond during times of brand disruption, is essential. To sustain a connection with the consumer brand, the firm must be watchful to ensure that the personality of the consumer and the brand stay in balance over a more extended period and withstand brand disruptions.


Sadly, some firms still consider social media networks as an afterthought, relying on interns to send the occasional tweet. Your social media presence is an integral component of your brand’s reputation and image – therefore, employ experts! Ensure that you restrict access to just skilled vital managers who have enough training to avoid errors. For illustration, some employees have in the past posted personal updates on brand accounts short of realizing they hadn’t moved to the correct account.


Also, allowing just any employee access to the company’s social media accounts risks putting your reputation at stake. When laid off, you may forget to change the access codes, and a bitter employee is the worst person you can have with access to your social pages. Don’t underestimate the importance of a social media manager as a consumer advocate within your business. A social media manager should understand your brand’s personality and voice, be experienced, and, more importantly, care about your consumers.


Final Thoughts


Before social media, complaints were rapidly isolated, leaving the disgruntled person with a lone voice. With the help of viral networks, these single voices may now swiftly capture the attention of millions, emphasizing the need for companies to understand the social network framework and be prepared to act when corporate or brand image is challenged.


This type of risk may endanger the existence of even the most successful and well-run businesses, wiping away millions or billions of dollars in potential income. Monitoring for internet behavior such as bad reviews that might harm a professional image can be a time-consuming task.


Therefore, instead of channeling your hard-earned resources to this cause, it is advisable to engage the services of a reputable company with the relevant expertise and decades of cybersecurity experience. Online reputation management, online risk management, and online crisis management are all tasks best handled by companies that purely focus on managing reputational risk. For instance, Sam Tilston, CEO of Awesome Resources, has more than two decades of cybersecurity and online reputation experience.


The internet has taken on a new meaning in favor of consumers, and this shift has occurred fast. Many businesses, and in some cases whole sectors, have suffered as a result of the new transformations in communication power. This complicates the power shifts that social media has in favor of the consumer, leaving organizations no option other than to be prepared at all times.


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