It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.
– Ben Franklin
Although Ben Franklin said that over 200 years ago, it still holds true today. In the hyper fast age of the Internet, that one bad deed can happen in seconds ruining years of good reputation and even faster if the content has gone viral.
Despite the common fear that an angry client or a sneaky competitor will be the source of ruin, it’s more likely that you will make the gaffe that will cost you the trust of your customer. In this post we’ll cover the first four and next week we’ll unveil the rest. The following reputation mistakes are totally under your own control unlike the angry customer, so take note of these seemingly innocent mistakes:
1. Social Media Driving While Under the Influence
This is one that is constantly repeated by people in all walks of life… the dreaded decision to go on Facebook or Twitter and over-share after having one too many drinks. For the same reason you should never drive a car while drunk, you should avoid going on social media. Your judgment is impaired and the regular filter that keeps you from telling a mom that her baby is ugly is asleep at the wheel. Before social media, you might wake up the next morning to find that you went dancing in a public fountain and only your buddies and a few innocent bystanders would know. Now it is caught as a video on a cell phone or worse yet, you take a selfie while dancing in the fountain and thousands including your customers know within minutes.
2. Talking Bad About a Customer
Just don’t do it. You might think that the private Facebook group or your own personal page is a safe place to vent. It isn’t. Even if you have gone through all the privacy settings and locked it all down to just your friends, someone can always grab a screenshot and share it. Look at what happened on Snap Chat. The social media channel where pictures are supposed to only last a few seconds. Those ended up online permanently thanks to a few hackers and 3rd party software. (Article on CBSLocal-San Francisco)
Your presence on social media is to attract ideal clients. If you’re bad mouthing clients, you are sending the message that you don’t respect them. Not exactly a trustworthy image where customer trust is already difficult to build and maintain.
While we’re on the subject, it really isn’t a good idea to trash anyone on social media. Your colleagues, competitors and even that guy who cut you off this morning during rush hour. Be the person who has a reputation for being the one who is worthy of trusting to share information. Think about it. If your service involves knowing the inner workings of my business or personal life, would I want the worry that you’re going to go on Twitter and talk about my situation? Even if names aren’t mentioned, those closest to me will figure it out.
3. Plain Old Lying
It’s easy to hide behind a keyboard and build yourself up to be a rock star online. There’s a false sense of safety that no one can “see” you. You might even do it without realizing it when you left out certain details when posting online. Just be honest and transparent. I’m not saying to overshare, but be honest when you make a legitimate mistake and be transparent about your affiliate connections.
Need more convincing? A survey points out that even in our personal lives we don’t trust what people post to social media, (Why We Don’t Trust Each Other) Assume that any lie will eventually be exposed and do instant damage to your reputation. Look at any tabloid’s front page and you’ll see all the proof you need.
4. Forgetting that All Phones Have Cameras Leading to Reputation Killing Photos & Video
Remember those tabloids I just mentioned? You don’t need to be a celebrity to fall victim to that snapshot or video clip that ruins your entire reputation. Most people carry cell phones and nearly all of them are able to take photos and video. Be especially careful at large events and gatherings where videos may be recorded by the event organizers. Many business events are capturing professional video and conducting interviews of speakers. You don’t want to be the guy in the background who is too drunk to stand up straight.
I’m not advocating that you pretend to be something you’re not, but keep in mind that something could be taken out of context and that your actions may be recorded and uploaded to the Internet where content can live forever.
Stay tuned next week for the remaining four Dangerous Online Reputation Mistakes to Avoid.