Online Reputation: The Paradox of Publicity

Unfortunately, the old adage ‘if you haven’t got something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all’ definitely does not apply to the internet. Today, we live in a world where anyone with access to the internet can say anything they want – be that a glowing endorsement of your employee going the extra mile to please a customer, or a scathing attack after missing a delivery time.

The need to protect your online reputation has once again become the center of attention after the US fast food giant Burger King had its Twitter account hacked. In the latest Whopper story (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) from the world of Twitter, the red, yellow, and blue of Burger King was replaced by the Golden Arches. Claims of ‘We just got sold to McDonalds!’ proved unfounded and, fortunately for Burger King, they seem to have emerged from the whole fiasco in a positive light.

Who would have thought being hacked would actually prove beneficial? Not many I’m sure – but that seems to be what has happened; Burger King has gained the kind of attention some advertising teams could only dream of. After all, tens of thousands of new Twitter followers in two days is hardly a disaster, nor is the worldwide news coverage that the story has created.

That said, Burger King were remarkably lucky. Contrary to popular belief, it would appear that people do in fact still have some sense of humor and took the tweets (which, let’s put it this way, I wouldn’t want my Grandma to read) as the outlandish attention grabbers they were always intended to be.
This inherent vulnerability of social media – in the sense that not only does it offer a way for consumers to get closer to the brand(s) that they love, but also has the power to alienate that very same fan base by something as simple as a badly worded tweet – highlights the need for online reputation management.
In this day and age, the brand is all-powerful. The likes of McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Apple, etc. have become so synonymous with everyday life that it’s almost impossible to go a day without seeing a billboard or television advert trying to sell you their latest product. Is it any wonder that major corporations spend millions on advertising campaigns? Not really, when they know a bad campaign could see them lose ground to competitors while a good one could bring in new consumers and lead to big profits. Given cases like Burger King’s, however, we are once again reminded that not all negative publicity is always bad, somewhat confirming the saying that any publicity is generally good publicity.