Companies need to monitor social media to minimise reputational damage

Social media is booming with Twitter users estimated to be in the tens of millions with around 50 million messages a day created. Add this to the 400 million Facebook users and 126 million blogs (as tracked by BlogPulse)…the statistics are mind boggling!

New Image

Social media is beginning to encroach onto journalists’ source list, with most believing it is important to use as many sources as possible in the course of investigations:

“As a journalist you want the widest sources of information as possible so you suck in everything you can…you’d be foolish as a journalist not to read as much as you can.”

They recognise that media is changing dramatically and that news travels much faster:

“It means rumours and speculation can get much stronger currency because they’re being repeated and it can take time for a credible source like the newspaper to actually shut down or a stock exchange announcement to shut down an uninformed rumour. So that is a danger with it but…more information is a good thing.”

Journalists use social media and blogs as a source from which they develop ideas or leads, more often as background. They suggest it is risky to take what they read at face value:

“Did you see the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday reported a West Indian cricketer was flying by private plane because he joked about it on his Twitter account?”

Those journalists who do use blogs suggest it takes time to understand which ones they can trust:

“You start to learn the good blogs and the bad blogs, which ones are accurate, which ones aren’t, which ones are opinionated, which ones are more useful to you…”

Journalists believe companies need to get on top of social media and its risks, carefully monitoring what is being said and responding quickly to potential issues before reputations are damaged:

“You can get a rumour that runs wildfire through the social media before there is an attempt to shut it down. The companies have got to learn how to deal with those issues. It’s no longer putting on a stock exchange announcement saying ‘We refer to a report in the Australian this morning’ or ‘We refer to a report in the Australian Financial Review’. They now need to say ‘We are aware of a rumour circulating on Twitter’, that kind of thing that they’re going to have, they just must be aware of them.”