A Canadian woman lost her disability benefits when Facebook vacation pictures contradicted her claims of debilitating depression. Divorce lawyers now frequently monitor Twitter and Facebook posts to find dirt on their clients' exes, to be used in alimony and child custody negotiations. One mom even lost custody of her children because her Facebook profile showed she was spending too much time on Farmville. And not a day passes without a handful of people's poor social media judgment getting them fired (for posting party pictures on alleged sick days, for example), or simply not hired (most employers shy away from candidates whose profile pic includes a bottle of tequila in each hand, Cinco de Mayo or not). Consider this tweet from Kenneth Coleduring the height of the revolution in Egypt: "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at...
Your boss, your constituents, your customers, and yes, even your ex-wife's divorce lawyer are all connected to you. They are removed from you not by six degrees of separation, but by one little mouse click.
Because it is informal, personal, and immediate, social media is well suited for apologies and brand damage control efforts. If you face negative publicity in new media, there is zero chance of turning it around with old media techniques. But now you can fire back through social media — uploading your own YouTube video explaining what you are doing to fix the situation and creating a special Twitter account to specifically handle customers concerns about this issue. Because of quick and appropriate responses directly to the people most concerned, you are able to diffuse what can be a catastrophic event.
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