bizEDGE NZ - Protecting company reputation online

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Protecting company reputation online

We’ve all heard the horror stories of company reputations being destroyed online. It’s true that the internet does have a way of exposing bad customer service – but what can you do to protect yourself from unfair reputation damage?
You’ve worked hard to create a positive reputation for your company. In a networked world, that can quickly be undone. Anything you say about your company in the online world can be seen by others. Once information is posted online, it can be hard – near impossible – to undo or erase. 
Deleting something from a website of any kind (forum, social network, blog) does not necessarily mean that it will be wiped from the public domain.
What if your employees decide to post something about your company in a forum, or on their Facebook page? People in their network can see these comments and form an opinion about your company before they can be removed, as chances are they’ll be receiving the updates in real time.  Don’t forget content can be screen-grabbed or saved. A single act can have far-reaching consequences: ethical, legal or image-enhancing or destroying, for both the individual and the company.
The many parts of an online reputation
If a person is researching a topic online, they’ll usually go to a couple of different sources to get perspective on the issue. This is the same thing that happens if people are looking for information on a particular product or company. The search can find a lot of different things: official company websites, product listings on auction sites, and comments made about you on forums and message boards. 
You can’t control what everybody says about your business, but negative comments from staff members can be particularly damaging, as they hold greater weight with prospective customers.
Whatever people find in these searches will determine how they feel about your company. You don’t want to risk potential clients coming across unfair and inaccurate comments and deciding not to do business with you because of this.
Before anything on the internet is deleted, many people could have read it, copied it and discussed it with others, making it very hard to ignore that fact that it ever existed at all. This is something that is often hard to remember – many people might find some information on the internet that is hard to forget.
This can have significant effects on your company’s reputation (lest we forget those stomach-turning Domino’s pizza videos). 
There are countless examples of companies who have suffered at the hands of employees purely through social media.
How do you prevent it?
The best way to avoid something like this happening is to ensure your company has an IT policy so that all employees know how their comments can affect the company’s reputation and what their responsibilities are to the company online. If all employees understand their responsibility to protecting the company reputation, you have taken a big step towards protecting your company’s reputation online.
Things to consider when putting together your IT policy (including a social media policy):


  • Do employees use social media for business purposes? Is there anything in the policy that could affect their ability to serve your clients?

  • Your employees will be perceived as a representative of your company.

  • An IT policy doesn’t stop at signing the form – don’t forget about ongoing training.


See more at www.thewhatsit.org.nz
And remember – reputation is based around what you do, what you say and what people say about you. Having a policy in place for your employees to follow is a great way to look after your company’s reputation and let employees know that what they say counts.
Resources
www.thewhatsit.org.nz – a toolkit to help employers create an IT policy specific to their organisation’s requirement. It defines obligations, responsibilities, and the nature of possible consequences associated with breaches and behaviour deemed to undermine the safety and professionalism of the work environment. There are units for staff to complete and you can create your own IT policy for staff to sign. 

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