Yesterday I was told about an incident that made me somewhat curious and quite amazed, but not in a positive way.
The case was this: Someone dear to me has a Tumblr and is posting everything from fashion posts and pictures, to posts about her outfits of the day, to make-up and styling documentations -- personal stuff that she shares with her community on Tumblr and Twitter. Of course when you put yourself out there in such a manner, there is bound to be someone that finds the time, energy and necessity to write some bad comments. That's just the way it is. There is always that someone that has so much free time that he or she actually bothers to write that shitty bash and spread negativity to the owner of the blog in question. And the best part is that most often these "nice" people leave their comments anonymously, because they don't have the back-bone to stand up for their point of view. They would rather hide behind a constructed nickname instead.
My grand-dad used to say, "If you don't have anything positive or nice to say, then keep your mouth shut!"
In the case of my friend's Tumblr, my friend, the recipient of the negative comment, felt there was something weird about the comment and wanted to figure out who sent it, or at least where in the world it came from. With the help of the IP tracking tool Viola, the IP was tracked back to a company -- a rather large brand -- which leads us to the core issue of the headline.
Many corporations have employees that are at times procrastinating at work, going around leaving bad comments, hating and bashing other people's creativity. Since they are spreading negativity around from their work computers -- in a truly cowardly manner I might add -- it all comes back to the brand and corporation, and not in a positive way.
With the transparency of the online world, where everyone is connected and where almost every brand has a social media profile, negative comments can damage the reputation of a brand and create quite the spread of bad buzz, and all because of a few, cowardly employees.
Is there a way to avoid this? Not really. There are always going to be haters out there, but this only proves the need for clear corporate principles and some simple rules of engagement for employees. By having clear rules and principles for workers, it makes it simple to take action and do something about potentially severe consequences for the good reputation of a brand, should something occur.
We've seen some previous and quite obvious cases of severe damage to a brand because of an employee's stupid behavior online. (For example, check out this list). Often times this kind of negative behavior is more hidden, subtle and very difficult to trace, but in the worst case, it can severely damage a brand -- especially if someone with a strong social media presence takes interest.
Going back to the case this all originated from, the brand did notice the tweets, re-tweets and comments going on, and gave a clear interest of taking action, which is good. I hope it will have consequences to the person that started this and that this makes the company rethink -- not by limiting the access to their employees, but by giving them a clear message of what is OK and what is not. What is your take?