Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Business Editor Steve Jagler asks how can organizations and brands control what’s said about them in social media? What practices are out there to manage reputation in social media? Karl Robe, APR, Karl James & Company shares counsel he gave to an actual client being extorted online.

Research shows search engines and social media platforms are outperforming two of the three historically most influential media platforms—newspapers and magazines–and it impacts reputation in social media and online venues. While social media is not exactly trustworthy, it is widely used. Social media provides a powerful means of sharing information—whether true or not. And it lives on forever. Which is why false information online must be addressed to protect your reputation in social media.

The crisis will pass, but with every crisis there’s an opportunity. Let’s discuss an experience with a national retailer client of Karl James & Company. The client faced relentless online criticism from a consumer with a record of shaking down businesses on social media. The consumer turned to Facebook with baseless claims to secure compensation. All attempts to resolve the issue were ineffective. Anything short of meeting outrageous monetary demands was rejected by the disgruntled consumer.

All situations are different, but here are a few tips if your reputation comes under attack on social media:

  1. Remember: power comes from communicating positively, constructively, and directly with those that matter. Realize the attacker is not going away and likely will continue to bombard you. Overtime, through actively counteracting each attack, you form a public record of engagement and paint a picture of trust and responsiveness with current and potential customers.
  2. Initially, we would not recommend pursuing a strategy of removing the attacker’s comments and banning the attacker. We would recommend ongoing, online engagement designed to turn complaints into opportunities to illustrate your brand and all it promises.
  3. Prior to moving forward with any campaign to counteract online attacks always involve legal counsel too. One side note, when in crisis your lawyer will always be wrong. At least as it pertains to the court of public opinion. The rules in a court of law—if you don’t say something, it cannot be used against you—don’t translate to victory in the court of public opinion.

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