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Damage-Your-Business-ReputationA few weeks ago I recommended a friend to a former client of mine who had a job opening.  My friend came back to me aghast.  My former client had a voluminous set of near scatological comments on various social media placed by a few disgruntled employees.  My friend thought several times about even considering the company.

The calumny spread through social media is mostly unaccountable.  It may be true.  It may not.  But, through the ubiquitous reach of Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, et. al., the false is often lumped equally with the true.

The danger to company brand and reputation is frightening.  I remember a couple of years ago (Feb. 2, 2011) when hundreds of people were being killed and raped (including reporters) in Egypt, Kenneth Cole nearly had his head taken off when he glibly tweeted:  “Millions are in an uproar in Cairo.  Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online.”  Well, he got tens of thousands of response tweets like the following:

1.  arrington—WTF is wrong with you@KennethCole?
2.  soullindo—Bad taste@Kenneth Cole.  Bad.  Taste.
3.  palbi-palbi—@Kennethcole is the asshole of the day.
4.  (And my favorite)  BookGirl96—“I wouldn’t want to be in Kenneth Cole’s shoes right now.”

CROP_jason_collins_SI_coverThe threats to cyber security are no longer just from malevolent hackers like Anonymous or the cyber warfare division of the Red Army in China.  They are just as damagingly coming from inside companies, either from their own careless mistakes and thoughtlessness or from disgruntled employees.

For example, Facebook recently received a black eye because of certain “group sites” that posted misogynist and abusive comments about women.  Similarly, when Jason Collins recently came out as the first active NBA star to announce he was gay, NBA chat forums posted a lot of anti-homosexual hate speech which NBA officials claimed they were helpless to prevent, but as it turned out, they could have stopped.

So what companies face is at least a three-headed Hydra of social media threat:  external hacking, brand-threatening marketing misjudgments, and internal mischief and/or sabotage.

A new hybrid of company has appeared to combat the more wide-ranging downside of social media.  It deals not only with anti-malware technology but also with helping companies and brands streamline safe and effective social media practices and strategy that ensure reputation protection and legal compliance.

Per this, I recently met an entrepreneur named Devin Redmond, Founder & CEO of a kick-ass two year old company Nexgate, based in San Francisco which specializes in cloud-based brand protection and compliance for enterprise social media accounts.  He tells me business is brisk.

Devin_Redmond-e1363074492919In addition to social media strategy, Redmond (who’s clients include Rosetta Stone, Intel, KPMG, among many others) seamlessly addresses and monitors a full range of social media issues like:

  • Protecting against high-profile social media attacks
  • Protecting company/brands’ reputations from harmful content, both from within or third party messaging
  • Helping businesses stay savvy  in interacting and engaging with customers
  • Keeping current with technology that is available to help minimize security and compliance risk
  • Identifying social media risks, compliance issues and audience abuse

Being the technology dinosaur I am, the technical details of all this cyber genius is a bit beyond my ken, but I certainly recognize the threat, as well as the promise, for all of us in this cyber world that is moving and evolving at breakneck speed.  It’s bloody scary to think a carefully built reputation can be quickly damaged by inattention or carelessness, while our chief focus is on our core business.

Have to run now. Gotta check a tweet from @carlosdanger.com.

Charles Caleb Colton observed in 1825, “There are two modes of establishing our reputation; to be praised by honest men or to be abused by rogues.”  Thanks, Charles

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