Ever since the onslaught of social media platforms and the increasing number of brands using them, reputations have been ruined in 140 characters or less.  Reputation Management is understanding and managing what people are saying about you. This involves many things including but not limited to; suppressing negative reviews, monitoring what people are saying, addressing criticism, and tactfully approaching situations. Reputation Management has become more important than ever, especially when it comes to social media channels and monitoring what your customers are saying about you.

Not only is social media affecting a brand’s reputation, but it can also completely alter your own, with one mindless post, tweet, or photo.

You’re Doing It Wrong

The past few months have been littered with social media missteps and “WTF” moments. Here are a few that other brands (and individuals) could learn from.

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1. Probably the top trending mishap right now is the infamous tweet by a young lady that decided to brag about hitting a biker while driving. Like really?! You REALLY thought that was a good idea, let alone, an accomplishment. Sometimes my generation saddens me. Long story short, she was reported and Ms. Way ended up with some fines and a hefty number of points.

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 12.09.59 PM2. The most classless thing brands have done over the past year has been attempting to turn tragedy into profit. Major brands like American Apparel, Kenneth Cole, Kmart, Spaghetti-O’s and more, have taken national and global tragedies and used them to promote their products/services. Come on Fortune 500s, greed is unflattering and people don’t appreciate a “SANDYSALE” during a hurricane or a huge toy promotion after a school shooting. Go back to sensitivity training.

3. Outing your personal views could affect more than just you. Take Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. He expressed his same-sex beliefs during an interview, and started a wave of reactions. Although Phil made the comments, it ended up affecting the entire family, the TV network A&E, and was quickly translated into A&E’s stance on same-sex couples. The Chick-fil-a’s controversy a few years ago was a similar situation, where the CEO’s comments reflected on his entire brand. Consumers will tie personal statements and views to your brand. Period.

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4. Don’t cry hack. Occasionally a brand will post something inappropriate, and only later backtrack once they receive a landslide of negative feedback. Instead of owning up to it, they throw up the go to response “Sorry, we’ve been hacked and we’ve removed the post”. This just fuels more negative comments from your brand’s now ex-supporters. The Red Cross is a perfect example of how to properly handle the situation instead of claiming a hack.

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5. For the love of pizza, use the right account when posting, tweeting or whatever. In a few instances over the past year, employees have accidentally posted something meant for their personal account, under their companies’ account name. Many of our clients place their trust in me on a continual basis by adding me as an admin of their accounts. Check, re-check and then check again.

This was meant to be on a KitchenAid staff member’s personal Facebook page.

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Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 12.14.44 PM6. Whether you take it down or not, it’s not there and it will go viral. Think about how your audience will interpret your message. Does it encourage sexual innuendos? Mistakenly offend gender or ethnicity? Or do your customers just plain not like you?

I’d love to meet the person that thought this was a brilliant idea. —–>

7. Probably one of my favorites is when JP Morgan started a hashtag for a Q&A to increase engagement. Well, they got what they wished for, except in a more negative light. A barrage of angry customers called the major financial institution on all of the “wrongs” they’ve created.

8. And the most obvious of them all – when an employee is no longer with the business but previously had access to your social media channels, change your darn passwords! People are vengeful. Enough said.

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Rep Management #ftw

So, I have to give major rep management cred to BarkBox. BarkBox is like BirchBox but contains an array of organic treats and toys sent to your house each month (yes, I am a crazy dog mom that has a subscription for my dog). I absolutely love what they send, but my dog is an intense chewer when it comes to toys. I figured I’d give BarkBox a shout out on their Facebook page about how awesome their box is. I also mentioned that I wished they included were more “durable” toys for dogs like mine. They responded within 24 hours letting me know that they saw my post and want to change Remy’s (my dog) preferences. I contacted the email and engaged with an amazing rep, who not only changed Remy’s toy preferences, she sent out a box of more durable toys to replace the ones Remy shredded.

I really didn’t complain or say anything negative about their product. The fact that they reached out with that gesture really struck me. THAT is reputation management done right.

Mistakes are bound to happen, how your brand handles the aftermath is what counts. Sure, everyone is going to remember Home Depot’s racist picture or Epicurious’ insensitive branding plug, but how you respond to these blunders, will set the tone for the rest of your marketing existence.

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