FLASH- a Young man, a hero, standing up for someone on a bus was brutally murdered, the alleged perpetrator was described as black, with curly black hair, hardly a great description. One man, a father of 2 young children, was immediately identified as the ‘murderer’ and people threatened him on Facebook then suggested others should viral’ this guy’s face and stats. He lost his job, threatened with death and vilified.


The problem? – The police immediately ruled him out as a suspect. He was playing cards miles away with friends.

The point? In a heartbeat this innocent man’s reputation and life was destroyed by social media vigilantes. Once something about you hits the web it is impossible to retrieve it and delete that which has been said to the world. Yikes!

Social media has created a situation whereby a person or brand can be elevated substantially, quickly or destroyed in a heartbeat. Search engines and social media websites create a forum where anything can be said about you with little or no moderation.

We’re learning of course, from changing privacy settings, to customizing who can see our profiles and posts from keeping very personal information off websites to monitoring pictures released or ‘tagged’ on Facebook. I don’t want a pic of me at a college party from 30 years ago posted online to embarrass me, there’s got to be a couple. One big thing I’ve learned is not to email, or post information after having a glass of chardonnay (my fav) – the Chardonnay Effect! Save the email and mail it the next day.

According to the Pew Research Center 57% of users check out their own names on the internet to see what is being said about them, about 46% check out others on the internet. I think it’s a lot higher than that.

You can monitor yourself on the internet. Setup alerts with Google to see where your name comes up, do a search of your name on a regular basis and use a monitoring tool like Radian6.

If you are monitoring your brand and company develop a policy for immediate response to negative publicity, I respond immediately and with humility, this is not the time to be defensive.

Remember, after all is said and done, your reputation is your most valuable asset – Protect it!

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  1. Gary, I work with a social media company and have seen the results impact my business substantially. Social media can be used for evil or for good. We’re seeing it’s uses in across the world as citizens organize against corrupt governments, bringing people together for worthy and lofty purposes. I saw an article recently that negative feedback (as long as it is a lone comment amongst many positives) can actually play in your favor as it encourages enagagement. Your comment regarding the post, along with those who see things in a more positive light, does what it was suppose to: enagage and encouage dialogue. I agree with your “chardonnay effect”. I might also add that don’t write anything that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. My business uses many of the tools social media has to offer. Hopefully, your example will be just that- a single, lone negative among the many psoitives. Thanks for the post.

    1. Thanks for the great Post Mark. I’m a firm believer in the positives of Social media and was moved to write about the negative one because of its impact. I guess people need to be diligent in everything we do. Engagement is my middle name, lol, thanks again

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