CIOs: Use Social Media to Manage Corporate Reputation

Part 4 of our series, What CIOs Need to Know About Social Media.

A post on Mashable from a year and a half ago is still relevant to enterprise CIOs grappling with the impact of social media on the enterprise. In the post, Lon S. Cohen lists seven things CIOs should be considering. We’re taking a closer look at each of the item in Cohen’s framework. In this post, we consider Cohen’s third item.

  • Web 2.0 Content and Presentation Standards
  • Review and Approval Processes
  • Managing Corporate Reputation
  • Versions and Update Controls
  • Impact On Operating Environment
  • Establishing Project Priority
  • Compliance

Managing Corporate Reputation on Social Media

Chances are the first thing you as a CIO think of when you think about social media is, “What if people – even customers – say bad things about us online?”

When dealing with this question, it’s helpful to recognize that if you act in the world, you probably have detractors. People have more than likely been talking negatively about you offline for some time. You’ve never been privy to their conversations, and you’ve had limited or no ability to address them directly or to know their concerns. Now that social media has brought these negative conversations out in the open, not only are they spread more widely, but you get the chance to do something about the root causes. That’s fantastic! You can find and address negativity, in real-time, for the first time in history.

The natural inclination of most enterprises is to try to suppress, delete, or otherwise eliminate dissent. In a world where access to broadcast media was expensive, restricted, and guarded by gatekeepers, this type of approach was effective. Enterprises could use libel laws or lawsuits, could pressure media outlets, and could use the media to confront and refute naysayers. Many enterprises employ these techniques in social media as well.

Often, however, the old tools for dealing with negatives not only don’t work online, but can result in generating even more negativity.

Three points from our excerpted from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (being slowly syndicated via this blog) can help frame your thinking about managing your enterprise’s online reputation:

Keep Records

It is critical to keep records of interactions with participants using social media. If you control the community space, say, on your own Web site, make sure everyone knows that you will delete posts that are offensive.  Copy the offending post into a call record before deleting it online, and be honest with your community about your action.

Negative Posts

When encountering a negative post (that does not violate your published terms of service), encourage the poster to explain him or herself. Often they will reveal the source of their frustration. Use the Air Force blogging decision tree (see the previous post in this series for information) to guide your response. If a response to the negativity is not covered in the FAQ, let the subject matter experts respond.

Troll Policy

A troll is someone who repeatedly posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages. Ignore trolls. Do not engage them. If they violate your terms of service, request management approval to delete them from the community.

Of course, there’s much more to protecting your online reputation, and we go into more depth in the next post in this series, Dealing with Negatives on Social Media.

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