Social Media Reputation Monitoring – A Must!

We all know that social media is a communications channel that can be used for service, marketing, and public relations activities.  What we don’t know is how to define the boundaries, who owns and manages processes, or even the identity – true or fictional – of the audience we are communicating with.

How honest and transparent are your social media responses? Do you edit social media comments to ensure that your company always looks favorable (at best) and neutral (at least)?  Do you even monitor social media at all?

For those of you who are starting down the social media reputation monitoring path, the following story will be of interest to you.

A website called “Doctored Reviews” illustrates the extremes some in the medical profession will go to, in order to ensure that their on-line reputations remain sterling and how a company by the name of Medical Justice has created a business to monitor and control physician-related social media postings.  Why?  Supposedly, to reduce the possible risk of frivolous medical malpractice suits.

In the article “Physician’s Need to Understand and Influence Their Online Reputation“, published by MedicalJustice.com on 8/02/2010, authors Jeffrey Segal, M.D., J.D. and Michael J. Sacopulos, J.D. are quoted as saying,

“The implications of a physician’s online reputation now extends beyond patients.  At least twenty-seven (27) states have a recognized cause of action for negligently credentialing a physician.   Given this liability, credentialing committees will likely perform detailed background checks using all available search tools, including social network sites.”

What this means is that over half of US states are saying that an entity could be at legal risk for credentialing a professional negligently, and that social media reputation research plays a part in those credentialing decisions.

And, according to this same article, “It is not just patients and credentialing committees which are scrutinizing physicians’ online reputations.  In any medical malpractice action, physicians should assume that the plaintiff’s attorney will check the doctor’s online reputation.  Geoffrey Vance, a thirty-eight (38) year old partner at McDermott, Will and Emry, makes use of social networking sites to gather facts about the opposing side for trials.  “I make it a practice to use as many sources as I can to come up with and to find information about the other side” Vance said.  “We used to run Lexus Nexus; we still do that.  We always look at cases, and now we use the internet – Google, and social networking sites.”

Most of us aren’t doctors, but what’s happening in the medical profession could easily extended into other markets.  Afterall, a patient is a customer.

If we believe that most attorneys will use whatever information they have to build and win their cases, no matter the product, service, or presenting issue, then I would think it would be prudent for ALL companies and professionals to manage their on-line reputations.  Transparency – desired by most customers – may not be the most desirable approach to short and long-term organizational viability, due to social media’s very nature.

Now, think about this story in light of the regulatory compliance environment you work in such as the FDA, ISO, SOx, annual reports (for SEC registered companies), analyst earnings calls, etc.  Failures of product or service, in reputation or in fact, regularly become legal proceedings, so it’s entirely likely that what medical practitioners are experiencing today will be what you must consider when creating your social media risk management strategy.

If you are a professional that needs credentialing from accrediting professional groups, then you too must consider your individual on-line reputation, just like doctors now do.  Likewise for job seekers, expert witnesses, thought leaders, consultants, and the like.

How do you get started with social media reputation monitoring and what should you think about when launching monitoring initiatives?

In the book, “Social Media ROI“, Oliver Blanchard offers a framework to address these issues in aggregate; including Reputation Management, Sentiment Analysis, and Crisis Management.

Additionally, there are countless on-line resources that can help you.  The following is a short list of resources related to this topic that can help you get started:

Want to explore social media monitoring at a tech event to talk to experts in person on this topic?  Because this is such a hot and fast-moving topic, Mashable has listed 80 upcoming events for you to consider.

Need to get started on a company-wide social media policy?  Findlaw.com has some good suggestions to get you started.

And remember to always work with your designated corporate counsel and HR before implementing your social media policy.

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One thought on “Social Media Reputation Monitoring – A Must!

  1. Worthwhile reading for any C-level exec. or director who’s concerned about risk management — and who isn’t? The rapid growth of Internet-based social media and its potential for misuse is all too evident. Risk managers should heed this blog’s well-documented call to action.

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