What’s Hiding in the Shadows of Your Company’s Online Reputation?

19 February, 2021

For better or worse, social media has blurred the boundaries between the personal and professional lives of many individuals. Some will proudly affix their employer’s name to their profiles, and then proceed to post and engage with content ranging from the weather to politics—often without much thought. But what happens when an employee posts something that is misaligned with your corporate brand or values?

The National Association of REALTORS® and many mortgage companies recently experienced such a quandary, detailed in a Jan. 15 HousingWire article. The organizations landed under public scrutiny after a Texas-based Realtor with whom they were affiliated participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and produced a slew of complementary social media content. One of the most startling posts included a video of her amid the riot shouting, “Y’all know who to hire for your realtor!”

While this is an extreme example of personal behavior gone wrong, it’s becoming increasingly common – and more visible, too. Black Knight’s social media solution provides the ability to track such activity – including instant search capabilities of current and archived content, as well as automated trigger-word monitoring. For example, Black Knight compiled a report from the solution’s data repository that showed phrases such as “Storm the Capitol” and “Stop the Steal” were commonplace last month, appearing in posts attributed to hundreds of licensed originators across the industry. Lenders without reputable social media solutions in place were – and still may be – in the dark about this activity.

The reality is that more people are using social media than ever, and we’re simultaneously functioning in a highly polarized, turbulent time in history. A single, misguided post from an employee can harm the solid reputation your company has worked so hard to establish, even if posted without malicious intent. The impact can be damaging and long-lasting. And in the mortgage and real estate industries, where strong customer relationships are integral, the risk of reputation damage is even greater.

Social media monitoring is likely already an active component of your social media compliance program, but some companies don’t realize that sophisticated social media tools should also offer real-time search functionality of current and archived content. In a world of great reputational risk, these additional features afford an important extra layer of oversight. This means that in addition to automated monitoring for key words, you also have visibility into what your employees, customers and peers are saying in real time, plus what they may have said months ago. With this otherwise unknown information in hand, you’re equipped to protect your reputation and brand by proactively engaging, amplifying or mitigating, as necessary.

Social media insight tools offer many features and customization capabilities, and it’s important to keep settings up to date to ensure they align with your company’s goals, current events and the competitive climate.

When evaluating and updating your social media monitoring and search tools, keep these considerations in mind:

  • When determining automated trigger words and real-time search words, consider terms that represent the industry, product offerings, your company, your competition, service reviews, and timely, sensitive events—including words reflective of the political climate.
  • Monitor specific individuals whom you believe pose the greatest risk for your organization.
  • Maintain strong communications practices with your employees so they hear timely and accurate company updates directly from you.
  • Be specific in the social media guidance you provide to employees; include examples of content deemed harmful, unethical, or outside of etiquette expectations.
  • Use your tool to track real-time activity, in addition to automated notifications.

Many organizations carefully select trigger words only to set them and forget them, failing not only to re-evaluate them regularly, but also to engage in real-time observation. Think of trigger words as the eyes in the back of your head, but real-time observation as your first line of sight. Leveraging key words or phrases through automation can shed light on what conversations are unfolding, creating the peace of mind that comes with proactively protecting your reputation while also delivering a simple, user-friendly experience.

When selecting a social media tool, another integral capability is access to archived data. In the dynamic reality of our present environment, the flexibility to look back at past posts is essential. For example, through extensive archived data, Black Knight’s social media tool offers new and existing clients the flexibility to scan an extensive pool of historic content to shine light on specific mentions, individuals and periods of time relevant to their brand and business interests.

Social media platforms and the ways we use them continue to transform, but it’s clear social media is here to stay. Sustaining a strong reputation is imperative to making the most of the current lending opportunities afforded by favorable market conditions and record-low rates. Maintaining a proactive social media strategy powered by modern tools is one of the simplest ways to stay in control of your brand. Don’t let your reputation fall victim to social media activities that occur in the shadows.

For information on monitoring best practices in the mortgage industry, read Black Knight’s white paper, “Monitoring Your Employees’ Social Media Activity.”