Fiona Lucas – iRespectOnline
REPUTATION REPUTATION – Fog and Mirrors
Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. (Cassio in Shakespeare’s Othello)
For many years I have been passionate about promoting high standards of ethics, transparency, community and accountability both for individuals and across all areas of business. This passion, combined with my work in the field of education and social media, led me to become an online reputation educator.
Reputation matters, whether you are a teen at high school, a ‘work from home’ mum, small business owner or a CEO. It is just as important for brands to monitor and cultivate a good reputation.
In a world where much of our lives can be discovered with just a few key strokes, reputation matters.
It can take years to build a good reputation, and just a matter of seconds to destroy it, so it is vital that we do protect it, particularly in the online world.
What has concerned me of late, is that “online reputation” has become the catch cry of many, and there have been many “online reputation management “ companies springing up. Many of these use what I would consider risky and often quite unethical means to “repair” reputations. Is this reputation by deception? These methods appear an oxymoron to me.
Often these companies create “mini” websites to push out “positive” content on their clients behalf, they set up backlinks and other affiliated sites to crowd the search engines with positive reviews, use teams of writers to produce content with no alignment to the companies philosophy and “suppress negative court findings”, “create a new positive image”, “obscure negative search results” – but what of authenticity and transparency? How is creating false blogs and reports, written by a totally removed business good for corporate governance? It is prudent to do your homework and make sure you have an agreed strategy before engaging such services.
Certainly pushing negative content further away from searches is important in repairing damage, but we have to look at what is being hidden and why. What if by removing all negative comments we then leave others open to be scammed by an unscrupulous business? Negative content should be repaired via genuine efforts by a business to demonstrate that they adhere to fairness, transparency and accountability. Employing a company to write bogus reviews and posts surely does not reflect such values? It is much better to have real testimonials from colleagues and clients. This is an area which has been concerning me in regards to Linkedin and its “recommendations” but I talk about that in another blog.
There are of course, always exceptions to the rule. A company who has been the victim of a smear campaign by competitors will require a different approach. Often the simplest way is to highlight the poor business practices of the competitor – Karma in the business world! Other exceptions are in the cases of individuals who may have been falsely targeted or have indiscretions from their youth which now affect their adult lives. Although each case is different, there are similarities in the solutions.
Apologising for poor behaviour publically is number one. If someone can find a negative report, it makes a big difference if an apology and honest admission can also be found. Being quoted as saying ‘no comment’ might seem like the most common thing to do, but in the eyes of the public these can appear evasive and raise suspicion. Likewise defensive comments don’t pay. The best strategy is to stay calm, don’t over-react. Take a step back and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try and understand what has generated their negativity.
We constantly talk in social media about the need for good ‘engagement’ when dealing with clients, followers or customers in the online environment and this is for good reason.
Authentic engagement builds trust. It demonstrates good intentions and shows that you actually care. Ensuring that your business reflects values which are ethical, and engages in business in a transparent manner are huge benefits in building trust. When you have built up a trusting loyal community, then that relationship will put you in a much better place should you have to deliver bad news, or negative reports appear. When people can see that your intentions were good, or something was beyond your control, they respond in a much more positive way.
Develop a social media policy which outlines how to engage and how to deal with complaints or problems on line and ensure that everyone in your business understands and agrees. A consistent approach is really important.
It is vital to monitor your reputation. Make sure your website and social media pages are regularly checked and comments responded to. Should you discover complaints, make sure you address them, using the strategies I have pointed out earlier.
In closing I would just like to emphasise that the absolute best way to build and manage a good reputation is to be transparent and honest in your business dealings. It’s a simple strategy, but it works!
our latest infograph for business is here
February 5th is Safer Internet Day – 2013 theme is “connect with respect” – we encourage that you do!
Livestrong – Strong enough?
Will we see backlash against a major charitable organisation, one that does so much good in the world in regards to supporting those with cancer, following the naming of Lance Armstrong as a drug cheat.
Scanning through the comments on the Livestrong site there are both supporters , the trolls who can’t resist a good party and those who are disgusted that the head of such a wonderful organisation, promoting health, should be deemed to have used performance enhancing drugs. This does not align with the mission of Livestrong which immediately poses problems in regards to authenticity.
As an avid lover of the Tour de France and a recreational cyclist myself, it brings me great sadness to consider that doping has occurred in this great challenge. There is another whole blog I could write about the need to win overriding the need to do it without the assistance of drugs, but today I am concerned with reputation.
The Tour is about endurance, how long will this taint on Lance’s reputation endure?
Lance himself claims he is innocent, but does not want to fight the charges. With evidence from 26 people including 11 of his own teammates, it is not a good situation to be in and Lance is sure to find that his reputation will suffer from this. Why he doesn’t want to fight it – that is his business, perhaps living strong now, having survived cancer means more to him than dredging up the past. Hopefully the good he has done in inspiring other cancer sufferers to fight on will be enough to carry him forward.
However it is not just Lance’s personal reputation at stake. These accusations reflect badly upon the Livestrong foundation itself and all those who support him and work closely with him. There will have to be considerations and deliberations made with any organisation with links to him – analysis of any potential backlash vs positive benefits. Unfortunately negative fallout from this will “live strong” on the web forever and work will need to be done to gain the forgiveness of the public. The pride surrounding the Tour is such that many may never forgive.
Some might say that he has well and truly made up for indiscretions through the creation of Livestrong and the positive legacy concerning his fight against cancer; and I am certain fellow cancer suffers will rally behind him (and it appears so, as has his sponsor Nike) ; but no one likes a cheat and that is mud that sticks.
Ethically can one then say that we can excuse cheating because of the other good which has been done? However has the organisation in a way been built around a lie? If we excuse a cheat once, then how can we not excuse cheats forever? It is indeed a difficult situation. It would have been best to have a definitive response. Fight for innocence or admit to having taken performance enhancing drugs and then allow all to move forward. What feels wrong is that once Lance stated that all he needed to beat cancer and return to cycling better than ever was will, moxie and hard work – but for those who put so much belief into him, did he also omit another ingredient which may have been essential to him winning? We may never know.
Perhaps we really are up to the stage when we just shrug our shoulders and say “whatever” because here is a man who was an inspiration to so many that we really can say “its in the past”. Perhaps we also could say that his indiscretions related to his career, but his survival of cancer was the next chapter and we read the story only from there.
The issues are more complex than this blog. Perhaps the case for Livestrong is unique given it’s charitable work, many a fine organisation would not withstand this kind of media attention. Consider it was the Chair of another major charity accused of wrong doing, one who was not an athlete, would a different type of cheating be forgiven?. Will the charity now perhaps come under closer scrutiny?
Generally would you trust someone who cheated? Does the good always conquer the bad?
We would love to know your thoughts.
5 Reasons that your business should develop a Social Media policy
How your business is percieved online is so important. This is not just about setting ground rules for use of social media in the workplace , your Social Media Policy should complement your Social Media strategy (you have one right?), and define how you engage online with customers, clients and prospects, so that you deliver your messages with consistency and brand flavour. But it goes even deeper. As social media becomes more and more a part of our normal lives, according to a article from Smartcompany, the Hays Tomorrow Workforce survey (read more here) showed that more and more job seekers expect access to social media platforms, and more and more employers grant that access, but it must be done to ensure that time is used effectively. Your policy is the guiding document for all this and more.
So my top 5 reasons for you to have a workplace Social Media policy are.. drumroll
So there you go. If you haven’t got one.. you should! It is important that you bring the team onboard when developing policy.
At iRespectOnline we can draft policies for your business to make it as pain free as possible. Call us now!
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