Norman Ng

3 Social Media Syndrome That Will Kill Your Reputation (& Job)

In Public Relations, Reputation Management, Social Media on August 24, 2011 at 12:35

Last month I had the opportunity to speak at The McGraw-Hill Companies on Social Media Branding. And one part of my topic focused on the pitfalls of social media communications. From this, I highlighted 3 “syndromes” that have cost enterprises serious erosions of financial capital, and also the jobs of some employees. Here are some of the syndromes:

1. Split Personality Syndrome: Where an enterprise’s public relation communications starkly differs from its actions. Take the infamous case of United Airlines, where a disgrunted passenger took his unhappiness over poor baggage handling and indifference from the airlines on compensating him on his guitar that was damaged by the airlines. This passenger, who was also a performing artist, made a youtube video that was a No. 1 hit with viewership exceeding 10 million and 50,000 likes. Cost of guitar = $3,500. Cost of Uniter Airlines stock devaluation over 4 days, reportedly due to the incident = $180 Million.

So enterprises should exercise extreme caution when your MarComm / PR folks start ringing the tune of “lets do facebook, youtube, twitter! most Fortune 500 companies are already on it!” Because the enterprise had better get its crisis communications strategy integrated and be ready to respond should a social media crisis occur.

2. Trigger Happy Syndrome: Here’s when muscle memory takes over common sense. A college student tweeted the following,”Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work”. Needless to say, she got fired even before starting work.

Think about the repercussions, whether you’re an enterprise / employee, especially so when you’re leveraging in Social Media. Because in this example, it clearly demonstrates how the globally interconnected community could pin you down before you can finish reading this sentence. Social media grants us instantaneous communications – but this too, could lead to our downfall. So think carefully, before you type in that 140 character on twitter.

3. Stereoscopic Syndrome: Where too much “insights” into your personal life is put online. Take for instance Kevin Colvin, an intern from Anglo Irish Bank. A reported family emergency required him to take leave of absence, only to find him on facebook during that “family emergency”, with a Halloween costume, beer in hand of course.

So employees, beware of the common ills of social media, after all “its not whether you find social media….but social media will find you…”

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