Correcting the lies of social media

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Responding to false criticisms on social media is an increasingly important issue in Reputation Management.

All too often, much of the information floating around the virtual world has been created out of ignorance, or is designed to deceive, or to promote positions that are not supported by facts.

Most of us are familiar with virtual information quoting so-called experts with views that reflect opinions, not facts. Unfortunately, not everyone bothers to check such claims – yet a check with one of the many “fact finder” sites would show many of them to be completely false.

Organisations with a communications program that includes building a social media profile – and this should be all of them – need to know how to manage their virtual image and respond to false claims.

Basic first steps include knowing how you want to be seen and establishing yourself, or the organisation you represent, as a trusted source.  The ability to provide interesting, relevant and informative content that adds to the image you are seeking is also needed.

While it’s easy to get information out there, it needs to be consistent with what else has been said about your organisation and how you want to be seen. Others might just check what you say or surf the net for other information about you.  If there are inconsistencies, the next step could well be a critical social media post.

Organisations also need to monitor what’s being said about them on social media and, if it’s damaging, have a plan to manage the problem.  While in the past it has been thought that correcting falsehoods is not a good technique as it draws further attention to the issue, a recent blog suggests a different approach.  

In a blog published this month by the Institute of Public Relations and based on research argues that correcting misinformation is the way to go. But this needs to be done in a logical and unemotional way.

Doing so also gives an opportunity to reinforce your position, promote other points, and add followers.

In addition, the reality that some “personal” social media sites such as Facebook can act as lightning rods that broaden the impact of a problem for a business and encourage uninformed criticism, needs to be taken into account. 

It’s all part of having a total communication strategy which incorporates social media approaches, rather than having it as a standalone activity.