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Viral Video: How You and the Internet Can Damage Your Small Business

Viral Video_ How You and the Internet Can Damage Your Small BusinessEffective use of internet marketing is great for your business. But when you get caught off guard—a bad business moment can go viral.


Earlier this year, a bystander caught a Miami doctor behaving badly on video. The incident involved an Uber driver, and questionable choices made by the doctor. Although the doctor eventually walked away from the incident, she couldn’t walk away from the internet furor left behind.


Since then, the young doctor was placed on leave from employment with the Jackson Health System. She states she didn’t realize the incident would be such a big deal and has hired an attorney, and a public relations firm, to try and salvage her reputation—and her job.


This incident is just the latest in a long string of viral moments captured by not-so-hidden cameras. Cellphone cameras are everywhere, and both photos and video capture the foods people eat, as well as their foibles during the business day.


As a business growth authority, I work with small business clients to help them increase revenue, develop their brand—and take home more money. I talked recently about how to turn the tables on negative internet comments, but now I am going to talk about making sure some of those negative comments never happen.


Best time for reputation management? Before you have a problem


A couple of years ago, singer Dave Carroll sat on a United Airlines airplane as baggage was being loaded onto the plane. To his dismay, he saw his custom guitar being tossed through the air by baggage handlers. On landing, he discovered, as he suspected, that the guitar was broken, costing him about $1,200 in repairs. In the span of a year, United Airlines dodged his calls, and refused to make good.


For closure, or maybe for openers, Mr. Carroll created and posted a YouTube video describing his experience with United Airlines. Within two days of posting, the video had 24,000 hits. Today, over 15 million people have viewed the piece. United Airlines contacted Mr. Carroll and hopefully took care of the claim. And today, the video keeps right on describing the poor service received by Mr. Carroll.


The best advice for handling a claim like this? Don’t let it happen in the first place. Viral videos frequently make headlines. While you can respond to negative comments, you cannot scrub your internet reputation clean—ever.


Consider these points to help avoid brand damaging moments enshrined forever on the internet:


  • Reputation management: If you are a solo entrepreneur, you are your brand and reputation manager. If your shop is slightly bigger, you could hand reputation management over to your web services people, or HR. No matter who does it, stay on top of media mention of your business on the internet. It is easy to do – just set up a free Google alert that will send you an email if your name is mentioned. Whether positive, or negative, you have the opportunity to know when you, or your business, are making news.


  • Training, training, training: In a consumer-centric economy, personalization is key. That means more than the use of your CRM, but careful in-person relationship management. When you onboard an employee, be sure they know how to handle unhappy customers, and how to refer the customer to a manager. When a customer is upset with a product or service, training should be in place to ensure the customer is greeted, and their grievance aired—by stepping aside, or into an office or private (but visible) area. Offer employee training on how to de-escalate a situation, and empathetically respond to clients who feel slighted. And there will always be customers who feel slighted.


If you encourage employees to post about their workplace on social media, it requires training. Creating positive buzz about your job environment is a plus, if it is done right. Be sure your employees know what is appropriate—and inappropriate—to post. Aim for positive—and if your employees are not happy, find out why and try to remedy it.


  • Assume the camera is there: We are all on camera. It could be a security camera, it could be someone’s phone. We live in a reputation economy that is rapidly blurring the lines between private and personal actions—you are your brand. In a parking lot, grocery store, or in line at the ballgame—if you lose your cool, it is going to be captured on camera forever.


Customers are sometimes unhappy, and post negative things on social media. You can handle that. But when you adopt an overall policy of excellent customer and client service—such issues are a lot less likely to happen.


When you need the marketing automation, and business plan, to break through the small business revenue ceiling, I can help. Call me at 585-633-7563 today.


Yours in profit,


Bob Britton

About the Author Bob Britton