In previous posts I’ve spoken about the basics of Web 1.0 compared to Web 2.0. On that topic, I feel that it’s in everybody’s interest to discuss more deeply the main aspect of Web 2.0, user-generated content.
As noted in my 2nd post, Web 2.0 relies on user collaboration, sharing of user-generated content, and social networking. In this modern world, part of a PR practitioner’s job is to manage the online world of an organisation. This includes reputation management.
While the introduction of Web 2.0 brought about a new way of online life, it also made the job of a PR practitioner a lot harder. Even though the positives do outweigh the negatives, there are certain aspects of Web 2.0 that are often overlooked.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow for users to upload and post any content that they want to be seen by others. Many organisations and public figures are operating their own Facebook and Twitter accounts to further engage and interact on a personal level with their publics. While this provides an opportunity for growth, it also decreases the amount of control they have.
There are several ‘must do’s’ when it comes to best practice in online reputation management. These are: personalise, monitor, respond in a timely manner, update regularly and manage settings . These few do’s will assist in controlling the communication on a page or account.
In most cases of well-maintained pages, practitioners and team members of the organisation would contribute and monitor the content on a regular basis, ensuring that they remain with adequate control. However in the case of outbursts or crisis’s, the flow of content dramatically increases and people tend to share and contribute a lot more. This has proven to be very risky.
You may remember the O’Farrell twitter outburst a few years back when NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell was caught referring to Julia Gillard as “the ranga”, in what was supposed to be a private message to a political journalist.
Although he shortly after deleted the post, a screenshot was taken by one of his followers and was shared and distributed to thousands on both Facebook and Twitter within minutes.
More details on the incident here.
As you can see in this example, moving to online communication and networking is very risky and even though O’Farrell deleted the post in a timely manner, a few seconds was enough for it to be seen and rapidly shared throughout the online world.
In hindsight, we have mentioned that two way communications is a must in successful public relations practice and that the introduction and implementation of Web 2.0 allowed for two way communication between organisations and their publics. We have also gone over in the first post how public relations practitioners use social media to create social change through the use of Web 2.0. In saying this, we must also recognise the risks associated with doing so and must be aware of the certain aspects that may cause problems in reputation of individuals or organisations.
 M. Rana. (personal communication. lecture 5, April 8 2013)