Fara Group Industry Insight

Reputation-damaging crises involving disruptive developments like cyberattacks, product recalls and executives’ misconduct have a direct impact on a company’s share price and this impact has doubled since the introduction of social media.

For starters, social media platforms give everyone a voice. A few people use it to offer praise at corporations and their executives while many others use it to throw criticism. Savvy users can even post blogs that supersede a corporation’s own website in search engine results.

Social media gives consumers, and the public at large, increased power to hold companies accountable for their actions and decisions. At the same time, unresponsiveness in the face of negative publicity often makes a situation worse for companies. Bad news spread fast. Activists from around the globe convene on social media and help further spread accusations of corporate wrongdoing in a bid to hold firms accountable. Social media activists can be a force of good when they influence businesses to adhere to higher standards of social and environmental stewardship.

But what happens when the accusations directed towards a company are exaggerated or worse, completely fabricated? For corporations, social media can be a virtual petri dish of defamatory information. A single comment can go viral and affect how millions of people view an issue. The platforms are also unbalanced. When compared to the voice of seemingly ordinary folk, those representing business interests are generally considered untrustworthy until proven otherwise. They can often seem impersonal, calculating, profit-hungry, and overall disinterested in the wellbeing of the customer or the environment. Therefore, sceptics of private businesses’ intentions are quick to jump on the bandwagon of a negative story circulating on social media without checking its veracity.

Sometimes, slanderous attacks are malicious. There are examples of well-organized “hit-squads” of online saboteurs systematically attacking a company’s reputation. The billions of fake accounts (trolls or bots) blocked by Twitter and Facebook are testimony to the severity of fake propaganda on social media.

While individuals and entities reserve the right to take legal action against such attacks on social media, in reality, anonymity and many layers of identity protection that accompany today’s platforms often make it hard to reach the real perpetrators. As such, threat of legal measures have lost their effectiveness.

Whether derogatory information on social media towards an individual or a company is based on facts or not, the presence of any reputational risk necessitates taking mitigative actions. When condemning reports about an entity go unanswered, the critics’ voice will likely grow louder, regardless of whether they represent real people or fake accounts employed to damage an opponent.

Fara Group offers a suite of reputational management solutions. Pro-active risk mitigation begins with identifying potential reputational risks and having strategies and systems in place to detect and respond before these threats grow out of control. Fara Group’s EWER (Early Warning, Early Response) solution achieves this through an experienced team of digital technology experts, strategists and writers, who are proficient in social media monitoring and engagement methods.

Fara Group also provides reactive solutions. Through a multi-lingual team of communication experts, Fara Group offers a media advocacy service for firms that need to rectify misunderstandings or unfair accusations about their operations. For firms facing malicious attacks, Fara Group can help identify and respond to bad actors. Fara Group pairs intelligence tradecraft, human source intelligence, and a rigorous process of tracking social media activity.

For more information about Fara Group’s reputational management solutions direct inquiries to info@faragroup.net.