By amazing, I’m not only talking about great products and services but, on the flip-side, strange and damaging human behaviors.
Some acts are so outrageous that a business can find sales and growth obliterated in a matter of hours or days.
News travels with the speed of thought. Before most national or international media could report on Osama bin Laden’s death, people all over the world read texts, emails, blogs and other online posts about the event. The news literally traveled around the world in a matter of minutes to tens of millions of people.
Our businesses are at risk today. One risk is not seizing opportunities using the power of social media, and the other is the risk of an unmanaged personal brand of our workforce.
Defining your brand
Identity, image, corporate reputation, product style and detail, among other things, make up your corporate brand.
Also, how your employees interact and deliver upon promises can make or break your brand. How consistent is your overall brand and how connected and congruent is your brand communicated internally as well as externally?
What do you expect of the firms with which you contract? What lines can you draw when it comes to training employees, and how far can and do you go to impose your corporate image and brand when it comes to their personal lives?
The climb is slow, the fall is fast
It’s sad how often we hear about celebrities going out of control and gaining negative media attention. Usually, the situations have a negative bearing on both the popularity and personal worth of the individual.
All it takes is a poor choice of words, an incident on an airplane, a lewd photo on social media or other indiscretion to forever change the worth of a product, service or equity of a business.
What can take decades to build can be torn down in a matter of seconds.
According to Patrick Rishe of Forbes.com, BrettFavre’s alleged misconduct could end up costing the athlete over $10 million a year, and over $100 million in the long term. Others such as Tiger Woods, Rick Pitino, and Charlie Sheen have cost themselves and their sponsors and corporate supporters hundreds of millions in settlements and lost sales.
In the public eye
Let’s face it, people like to talk and share information. Regardless of how people communicate, the public has an opinion and it’s not afraid to share. Just look at the way customers used Facebook and Twitter to shout down the Gap’s new logo last year.
As business owners and human resource managers we should realize that vocal consumers present a challenge and an opportunity.
Gail Goodman of Entrepreneur.com writes, “It means you know exactly what customers are saying about you — both positive and negative comments. Customer comments can give you insight into what’s working and what’s not working with your product or service. As the owner, you should participate in the conversation and use customer feedback to make smart business decisions.”
Whether you realize it or not, the public is watching and researching you, your business and your employees.
Social and business sites cater to inquiring minds. Managing business and personal brand is more important than ever. How often do you search for your name using Google or other search engine? How about someone else? Maybe you’re trying to decide who’s the best real estate agent, or which CPA firm to go with, or whether to believe the sales pitch from a Fortune 500 executive. How are you using these resources in your everyday decision-making about hiring and managing employee behaviors, not to mention your corporate brand?
Beware of legal research traps
Googling — searching on Google — is “an ill-advised practice,” according to Antoinette Gilbert, an associate labor and employment attorney with Karen Smith Kienbaum & Associates in Detroit, Mich.
“There are legal and illegal reasons to hire someone and the problem with Googling candidates is that the information can be used to discount a candidate in a protected class or may inadvertently allow biases to influence a hiring manager’s decision,” Gilbert writes. “The danger in Googling a job candidate is that you might discover information that could taint an objective decision.”
Business at the speed-of-thought is the mantra these days. Drop the ball and your competitor knows it. Get a rave review by a client, and you may lose an opportunity to capture the remark and utilize it for marketing or social media if you don’t have a game plan.
Spend time periodically reviewing your image and how you’re positioned online and through social media. Be prepared to seize opportunities and to control your success.
Greg Carlton, senior vice president and a principal of Peel & Holland Financial Group, is a Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant, and Licensed Life & Health Consultant. Greg may be reached at email@example.com or 270-527-6141.