The Internet, today, is a global phenomenon, stirring up online trouble that can threaten millions of dollars in revenue, overnight. My book Online Reputation Management For Dummies was published in 2012. I shake my head in disbelief every time I realize how much the online world has changed since then.
One example? Since 2012, Twitter has become a primary communication tool for world events and fast-moving gossip. Twitter is part of why people like Greta Thunberg can find themselves, age 16, addressing the United Nations.
Here’s another—with a big price tag. In 2018 Kylie Jenner tweeted “anyone else not open Snapchat anymore?” Snapchat lost a staggering $1.3 BILLION in revenue as other celebrities (and regular users) dropped their accounts.
On a personal note, each of us needs to be equipped to create a positive, powerful online reputation. It’s your digital resume. To wit: In 2017, 70% of employers used social media to screen candidates—up from only 11% in 2006. (On the other side, a bad reputation can cost a company at least 10% more per hire.)
More? 75% of HR departments in the US are required to search job applicants online. 85% of US recruiters and HR professionals say that an employee’s online reputation influences their hiring decisions, with nearly 50% influenced to a great extent by a strong online reputation. 70% have rejected candidates based on information they found online and 57% are less likely to interview a candidate they can’t find online.
Online Public Relations is a responsibility of the highest order. It requires having a solid understanding of how online influence works, and how to work with it.
For some examples of what NOT to do… Read on!
In 2013 a disgruntled British Airways was so incensed over his customer service experience that he paid $1,000 to promote a Tweet showing a screenshot of his “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.” British Airways Twitter graciously responded with: “Twitter feed is open 0900-1700 GMT.” There were over 77,000 impressions of that angry customer’s paid Twitter ad, and BA’s deeply lame response.
Alicia Keys, 15-time Grammy Award-winning singer and newly minted Global Creative Director for the 2013 BlackBerry 10 launch tweeted out a message via her… iPhone. As if that wasn’t enough, two years later, in 2015, BlackBerry urged its loyal Twitter following to keep up the brand conversation… via an iPhone tweet. (When’s the last time you saw somebody using a BlackBerry?)
Another UK brand, Tesco, a supermarket chain, literally invited public humiliation in 2014. Fresh off a scandal involving their sales of horsemeat disguised as beef, Tesco tweeted that employees were “off to hit the hay…”
Seoul Secret, a beauty brand, launched a new campaign for their skin-lightening cosmetics in 2016. I don’t have to tell you how well “White Makes You Win” was received world-wide.
Then there was the time in 2017 when Republican Senator Ted Cruz liked a lascivious porn tweet via @tedcruz. Although he later blamed it on a staffer, Cruz woke up the next day to his name trending on Twitter and his team being bombarded with questions from reporters and constituents alike.
And finally, in 2019, Snapchat missed a chance to laugh things off when its support bot was trolled into having a (pretty hilarious) life of its own tweeting things like: “I’m lost but there are people running around naked, should I streak?” Snapchat’s inability to see the joke led to a tremendous loss of credibility among its celebrity users.
So yes, organizations and public figures experience sudden catastrophes.
Typically when their product/service suddenly hits online. Or, a visible person associated with the brand has a bad night, a bad breakup, a lapse in judgement, or maybe a jealous frenemy from high school.
It can be sudden.
Such as when a healthcare service client got viciously maligned overnight by a disgruntled former employee and found themselves looking at losing their multi-million dollar business (and the care of several special needs people they loved.)
We can’t control everything.
But, in matters digital, just as in other areas of our business, it is possible to mitigate foreseeable risks. We can create an online platform via organic SEO and community building. We can center our efforts around doing the right thing for those who trust our brand enough to purchase goods or services from us. We can foster the kind of good will that will support our brand through any storm.