Monday, 19 August 2013

How to Protect Your Business from Social Media Slander

In an age where 90% of small businesses use social media (source: Social Media Today) and 75% of businesses as a whole utilise social networking for business purposes, there has been a surge in the number of businesses subjected to social media slander.

Waseem Saddique comments: “Social media has delivered many positives for businesses all around the world. It has enhanced global communication on a B2C and B2B scale effectively making the world ‘smaller’ and simplifying the process of ‘doing business’. However, there is a sinister side to social media that is becoming prevalent to the extent that it’s receiving high profile press attention.”

According to leading professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, 90% of businesses worldwide experience some form of abuse via social media. Such abuse has led to an increase in court cases as businesses look to stifle the perpetrators, costing companies thousands in order to pursue legal action and often to no effect because of ‘freedom of speech’ legislation.

Who are the perpetrators of social media slander against businesses?
Research conducted by Waseem Saddique Marketing Services discovered several perpetrators of slander who used social media as their primary platform for administering abuse. Based on the research, Waseem Saddique Marketing was able to establish a list of the five most common offenders for delivering slander via social networking, they are:

·      Competitors – Staggeringly it is other companies, usually under the guise of a hidden identity, that partake in posting defamatory comments about rival companies in order to sabotage business operations
·      Former employees – Perhaps not surprisingly, especially if a former employee did not part with former employers amicably, they are the second most likely to ‘hurl’ abuse at businesses  
·      Current employees – Usually in the heat of the moment, current employees of companies have been known to partake in abusing businesses. However, this often leads to them joining the category above, dismissed for gross misconduct
·      Dissatisfied customers – Social networking gives customers, who have a particular grievance against a company, the perfect platform to seriously affect a company’s reputation
·      Trolls – Though not necessarily holding any grudge against a business, trolls are sinister members of the social networking matrix and, without motive and purely for the pleasure, will set out to mercilessly damage the reputation of a business

How can a business combat the slander? 
Waseem Saddique states: “There are two essential steps that a business needs to take in order to combat social media slander. First, monitor the company name and second, respond quickly.”

Monitor the Business Name
The swiftest solution for monitoring your company name is to install social media monitoring software. Most monitoring systems can be downloaded from the internet. It’s designed to issue alerts anytime that your company name is mentioned. You are often notified via e-mail, allowing you to take the necessary action. If the mention is slanderous you can move to stifle it before the slander goes viral.

Respond swiftly       
A delayed response to slander gives slanderous comments the opportunity to spread and it’s then too late to eliminate the negative impact those comments have. One negative comment made about your business via social media can become thousands within minutes.

Rapid response indicates that you’re a company that takes its reputation seriously and that you have a policy in place to deal with complaints amicably.

Falling victim to social media slander has huge ramifications for businesses and if not addressed swiftly the viral vitriol that ensues can put businesses ‘out of business’.