This morning, you may have seen a new, interesting look to the Burger King Twitter account. Why was Burger King advertising McDonald’s new McFish Bites? Well, apparently, their account was hacked by a well-known group.
This group went so far as to change the name of the account to McDonald’s and changing the background pictures to those matching McDonald’s products. Then, they began to create several posts, including one of a male with a needle in his arm, stating, according to them, that it was an employee. Other posts included one stating that Burger King had been sold to McDonald’s and one with a link to a video promoting Chicago rapper Chief Keef. Several of the posts contained vulgarities.
It is unknown yet exactly who is responsible, but the group that may have done this is previously linked to previous hacks to several MLB websites and celebrities. Authorities believe the group to allegedly hacked the page may have chosen today because many of Burger King’s corporate employees have the day off for President’s Day.
As of early this afternoon, Twitter has suspended the Burger King page and its future is unknown. It is believed that the Burger King corporate office is now aware of what is happening. Their next steps will be intriguing for those in social media to see exactly how they deal with this crisis.
From HR departments using social media to evaluate candidate backgrounds to CEO Twitter feeds, social media is enmeshed in our business culture as well as our personal lives.
During the hiring and firing process, HR departments have the responsibility to acknowledge and consider the overall brand of a candidate, and whether we realize it or not, social media has created brands out of all of us. What policy do you have in place for your HR department to gather, interpret, and apply that information?
Legal Issues in the workforce
The above-mentioned HR situation could become a legal issue if an employee or candidate felt he was being discriminated against through social media research. In fact, any action a company takes based on social media information can be scrutinized. It can be almost crippling to think of all the ways social media can hurt you and your business. So where do you begin?
Talk to your lawyer. Many documents in your business may have to be revamped: non-disclosure agreements, company policy handbooks, and employee conduct expectations are all affected by social media. If you don’t have a clear plan in place, your employees can spend hours on Facebook, share sensitive information, even cause incredible backlash on your company within seconds of a poorly planned Tweet.
SEC disclosure is also an issue. As employees Twitter, update their Facebook status, or comment on blogs, they may be subtly disclosing information about their workplace, sometimes without realizing it. Employees with access to sensitive information also have to understand the responsibilities involved in handling that information- and protecting it from social media.
Should Facebook be banned?
As social media becomes more prevalent and employees feel the pressure not only to create social media accounts but also to maintain those accounts to build their own brand online. How do you monitor their social media time? Banning social media completely can be counter-productive not only to the employee’s growth in the company, but to their edge in the workplace. They can easily connect with a client on Facebook that will lead to a lasting relationship for your company.
When creating your social media plan, consider the following:
-Productivity. The amount of time your employees spend on all personal activities should be kept to a minimum, but tolerated within reasonable boundaries, just like personal phone calls. When Facebook or Twitter become their main focus, however, it’s important to let them know they’ve crossed an important boundary and the consequences that may result.
-Disclosure. As discussed above, employees should understand what they are allowed to disclose and what will not be tolerated, under any circumstance. Ensure they sign the appropriate legal forms making them liable for any damage caused to your company, and you’ll be sure they’ll watch what they say.
-Monitoring. Employees like to be trusted, and when given the benefit of the doubt, will often excel. However, good monitoring practices will help you keep your team honest and their productivity high. Have a procedure in place and make them aware of the rules.
-Penalties for misuse. Unfortunately, there will come a time when you’ll have to respond to misuse of social media- whether an employee simply can’t stop playing Farmville or your next merger was leaked on Twitter. Plan for this and make the penalties known to your employees to avoid surprises on either side.
The bottom line is: have a plan in place for dealing with social media. You’ll lessen your chances of being caught unaware and take a proactive step for your company.
Health insurance companies have an uphill climb in the battle for online reputation management. Historically, the press has painted the picture of high rates, low payouts and difficult customer service for the insurance industry as a whole. Many companies have fought this reputation successfully but the damaged image lingers in the minds of consumers.
User-generated content (UGC) online is quickly growing as the major reputation builder or destroyer for products, services and the companies that provide them. Some companies are already taking action by responding to blogs, posts, comments and tweets directly, curtailing the wildfire of negative feed back. When negative comments are posted online, health companies in particular don’t have the luxury of letting them go unanswered. However, in such a highly regulated industry most are struggling with how to engage.
Online Reputation Management
Online Reputation Management (ORM) is the awareness, research and analysis of online content and it’s effect on your brand, and the preventative and reactive steps taken to control the outcome. While literally every company in business today needs an effective ORM plan, steps can be taken now to review and understand your current online reputation and help you analyze appropriate ways to influence it.
In the pre-internet age some believed that no news is good news but today that belief can mean an irreparably tarnished reputation and a significant decrease in sales. Legitimate problems, slander, and unanswered questions can negatively impact your bottom line even if you’re not aware of its presence as user-generated content spreads across the web.
At the very least, you’re missing valuable opportunities to interact directly with consumers and reinforce a positive image. Without that presence, consumers will turn elsewhere.
Steps to Take
By monitoring social media regularly, analyzing threads that pertain to you and utilizing online avenues to influence the result, you can successfully manage external effects on your online image and lay the groundwork for a positive reputation.
First, you must have a plan in place to monitor and track mentions of your company, products and services online. Perform regular search audits on your brand. Social media sites such as Twitter and YouTube have built-in search options to help you find new mentions pertaining to your company. Google Alerts will send you an email every time your name is mentioned in a blog or website. Social Mention allows you to search across all social media platforms for the most relevant results. Use these and media-site specific search tools to stay abreast of online comments.
Once you’ve established where users are talking about you and what you’re saying, you must determine what to respond to and how to respond effectively. Good mentions deserve your attention as well as negative press. People like to know they’re making a difference, so appreciate good comments, especially during waves of negativity. Analyze negative comments to determine if they’re legitimate, such as a bad product or experience, or if they’re simply slander. Problems should be addressed publicly and respectfully.
Slander should be addressed by politely requesting the poster to remove the comment or post your response as a follow-up. If the slanderer does not comply, turn the matter over to your legal team.
Create a plan for responding to UGC online. Have a clear system in place and make it known to all employees and vendors what they can expect from you in the event of negative press. Once you’ve identified the need to respond, simply hit-or-miss answers and inconsistent information will not benefit your company; it could in fact do more damage. Have clear roles defined for responders and hold them and yourself accountable for your reputation.
Your influence shouldn’t start nor end with responses to existing comments. Take control of your reputation by creating and regularly updating a blog, building brand awareness over social media outlets, and creating a community that you can control for consumers to discuss your products and services. Once a comment is made outside your own online sphere, you stand on the power of an established online presence and already have the forum in place for your response.
Your scope of influence should include your marketing team. A company that works together online and offline to create a strong brand will be recognized and respected by consumers. Ensure your marketing, legal, and customer service departments are aware and supportive of your online efforts.
The risk involved in ignoring your company’s need for ORM is significant, and the benefits of ORM might surprise you:
While it might not seem so important at first, user-generated content and it’s effect on your online reputation can be substantial enough to cripple even large corporations. By taking the time to plan and implement the above steps, you’ll successfully take the reigns of your online reputation back from the consumers.
Here is an excerpt from Business Week. “Online reputation management evolved in the past two or three years in response to the explosion of social media that amplified the voices of individual Internet users. There are no data on how big the market is. “It’s kind of a fast-emerging field as more and more companies become aware of the need to have some sort of tracking,” says Michael Greene, an analyst at JupiterResearch who authored a report in January about responding to negative buzz online.”
ManoByte helps with reputation management by providing your company with a complete analytic view of what is being said about your company across the Social Media sphere.
Bite or get bitten.
People have always been talking about our companies, our products, our services, and our staff. The big difference now with Social Media is that people now have a platform that has the potential our reaching millions people. One negative experience can lead to a post that reaches thousands of people causing 10s of thousands of dollar is lost revenue. Case in Point being Uhaul and the affect of one negative tweet that directly touched 4,000 plus not to mentioned how the story is spread now. So, from a PR perspective is important to monitor what is being said about your organization across the blogsphere. (Listen to the video to hear more….)
The audiences you want to reach are using new ways to share information and interact. Blogs, Wikis, social networks, etc! They’re talking about you. Knowing what they’re saying and thinking about your company, your brand image, your products or services and your competitors is vital to success.
Manobyte’s ability to track all of this discussion enables your company to listen and understand how various publics perceive you. Being able to then respond to your target audiences in a way that opens two way communication will strengthen your relationship and their loyalty.
Manobyte goes beyond finding and gathering these conversations. All of the data is analyzed, complete with audience demographics so you know not only what they’re saying but who is saying it. You may be attracting audiences you did not expect! Manobyte’s SM Analytic services provide you with real data, real feedback, and real answers.
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