A step-by-step guide to safeguarding brand identity online

September 13, 2023 · READ

Given the 24/7 nature of social media, harmful content can occur at any time and escalate quickly. Hate speech, spam, and activist-led influence operations continue to surge across major social media platforms, meanwhile the virality factor inherent in the digital ecosystem necessitates that social media teams are quick to respond to issues before they escalate into a PR firestorm.

Businesses must prepare to handle harmful content to avoid leaving social media managers struggling to respond and depleting valuable resources. Ignoring urgent issues and harmful content exposes companies to irreversible damage to their brand. However, companies can minimize the likelihood of problems evolving into full-blown crises by planning for and promptly addressing potential risks.

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#1 Recognize – Prevention is better than cure

No brand, however influential, is invulnerable to harmful content escalating into a crisis. According to the latest Brands at Risk 2022 study conducted by Resolver, 90% of consumers believe harmful content on brand-owned social media pages can negatively impact reputation.

Social media teams must actively mitigate risks by defining content moderation protocols, determining what is tolerated, when to intervene, remove content, block users, or respond. Knowing what action to take in advance significantly saves time when unforeseen risks emerge, requiring prompt and accurate responses.

#2 Define – Categorize and escalate

Companies may face attacks based on their behavior, affiliations, or associations with third parties. These issues can escalate, affecting a company’s profits, image, and the well-being of customers and employees.

Social media crises and harmful content can also directly harm individuals, leaving them vulnerable to scams and exploitation by spambots. “At worst, they can target your potential customers,” says Sarah Stead, Vice President of Corporate Product at Resolver

Harmful content posing a risk to customer data or privacy should be reported to information technology departments, while other content may require escalation to human resources, lawyers, crisis communications teams, and other relevant departments.

#3 Establish – Gear up with solutions and strategies

Solutions can flag comments containing profanity, sexual content, and other keywords, but human judgment is needed to assess if there is a bigger threat. Monitoring content enables companies to identify harm and take appropriate steps to prevent a small risk from escalating into a major crisis. Without a robust social listening process, a company is exposed and vulnerable.

#4 Develop – Adopt a proactive response

Studies have shown a proactive approach decreases the impact of crises by 40%, resulting in less financial damage, lower recovery costs, and reduced strain on employees. Additionally, it has successfully prevented one in three crises from happening altogether.

In 2022, Resolver worked with a Premier League football club  to protect its fan communities and players from online harm. In just a year, Resolver identified and eliminated over 85,000 instances of abuse and hate speech targeting players and fans during high-profile matches when online abuse tends to surge.

#5 Review – Enforce community guidelines

Businesses must audit all social media channels to understand their purpose and stay updated on the latest technologies. From there, they can develop clear policies and strategies for effectively managing harmful content.

Understanding its own identity is paramount for a business and allows them to build the foundation for responding to potentially harmful content. Community guidelines are key in shaping interactions and behaviors within the brand’s online community.

#6 Learn – Learn from past mistakes

Due to the dynamic nature of social media, policies, and procedures should be re-evaluated and updated to respond to changing trends and usage.

Companies must establish internal protocols for escalating issues as they emerge. To develop effective crisis prevention strategies, businesses should examine past incidents, both within their brand and at their market competitors.

Learn more about how to mitigate online risk by downloading our guide to tackling harmful content, or contact us for a tailored risk assessment of your brand communities today.

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