Updated: Nov 23
Brands, politicians, organizations and customer-facing employees are now under the public eye 24/7. Social media has amplified the way that content is consumed and the way that it is distributed. Gen-Z for example, expects brands to communicate with them the same way that they would interact with a friend. One-way messages are no longer acceptable.
So why is it essential for brands to safeguard their online reputation?
1. Fake news is everywhere
If you look back at this year, it will become increasingly clear that information (whether true or fake) travels at the speed of light. Major events such as the #BlackLivesMatter movement took the world by storm. What started off as a social media post, eventually rewrote history. A number of brands stood by the movement and voiced their opinion, while others remained completely silent. Consumers across the globe kept a close eye on their favourite brands and the messages that they were communicating during this time.
2. Your consumers want honesty
When consumers enter their data while shopping online or using social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok, they are trusting businesses with their personal information. Data breaches, whistle-blower complaints and employee activism are more than enough reasons why brands need to instil and sustain trust in their consumers.
3. Your brand is not crisis-proof
Today, if a brand brazenly tweets about an issue and it comes across as insensitive, it would take a only couple of seconds for it to become a trending topic. If your organization does not have a crisis plan in place, now is a good time as any to get started. Responding to a crisis requires a certain skill-set that PR agencies and professionals are experts in. While brands must refrain from putting out insensitive pieces of communication in the first place, a crisis can occur overnight over something that was taken out of context. The lesson here is to protect your online reputation by consulting with the ones who know best.
4. It pays to be pro-active
HR departments are known for checking a potential hire’s social media footprint before rolling out an offer letter. This is also exactly what consumers do before purchasing a product and investors when putting their money in to a brand. Being pro-active when it comes to your brand’s online reputation is one of the best things you can do for the company. Smart advertising and marketing tactics will fall flat if a brand does not have a reputable online presence.
Let’s look at a brand that recovered from a crisis, even though it cost them an estimate of $5.3 billion in the process! In 2016, we all remember the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fiasco where devices were reportedly bursting into flames. The brand recalled over 2 million devices, hired 700 researchers to solve the problem and designed an eight-point battery system. A year later, when Samsung released the Galaxy Note 8, it broke sales record for the brand. So why do consumers feel secure buying from a brand whose devices literally catch fire? The simple answer to this is attributed to the loyal customer base and brand image that Samsung has built over the years. Although not a minor flaw from any angle, consumers were quick to return and forgive the brand for their momentary failings.
Therefore, crisis preparedness needs to account for a brand’s online presence as well as overall reputation. The next time your brand is scrambling to avert a crisis or even connecting to strategize a crisis communications plan, think about the brand’s online reputation that is at stake and act accordingly!