Reputational consequences of company mistakes made ‘much more serious’ though social media


By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

October 21, 2014 | 2 min read

Over three quarters (79 per cent) of senior communication professionals at leading organisations in the EMEA region view social media as a clear opportunity to build better relationships with key stakeholders, with five per cent seeing social as a ‘threat’.

The ‘Reputation: with or without you’ report by MSLgroup found that 85 per cent of respondents agreed that the reputational consequences of their mistakes have become more serious with the free flow of digital information brought about by social media.

Earlier this month, fashion retailer Hawke and Co saw this for itself, as the company made rude comments to a customer on its Twitter page.

Anders Kempe, president, EMEA, MSLgroup, said: “The new 24/7 ‘always-on’ landscape is an opportunity for communications professionals to build their brand and corporate reputations and to redefine their value in the eyes of their superiors through more data driven reporting. However, it will be a challenge to fulfil these expectations if communications capabilities are not properly resourced and managed.”

The research found that although 77 per cent of companies recognise that they could overcome the barriers by empowering employees, beyond the communications team, to become external advocates on social media as long as clear training and guidelines are adopted, 75 per cent of companies are hesitant to grant their employees the license to comment on social channels in an official capacity for fear of losing control.

The report recommends action in four areas:

1. Design a robust online monitoring and analysis regime to engage in the conversations that are happening around your business or brand.

2. Marry deep subject matter expertise with technical savvy to develop a “content engine” to sustain conversations, and then experiment with tone and approach across channels.

3. The conversations about your business or brand are happening online whether you want them to or not. Overcome cultural conservatism and engage on digital and social channels.

4. Knock down internal communications silos and embrace the quicker pace of communications in an environment of increased transparency. Share knowledge and passport to engage in public, if not official, company communications.


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