Online reputation management is a constantly evolving field. Learning from the best in the business is in any brand’s interests – that’s why at BRANDefenders, we conduct regular case studies into how the top brands protect their online reputation.
Today we’re going to be looking at how 3 of the world’s biggest companies protect their online reputation. We’ll be covering:
- Facebook (Meta)
These brands have all faced their share of controversies, but users and investors still flock to them. What are they doing right that other companies could learn from? Let’s dive right into it.
Facebook is the primary product of Meta Platforms. The social media giant has revolutionized the way people connect over the past decade and a half. It’s also one of the most attractive platforms for marketers owing to its unparalleled range, its intuitive use of social data, and its detailed targeting strategies.
As of June 2022, Meta Platforms is valued at around $565bn. This takes into account a loss of around $230bn between February and March 2022 – slightly more than the GDP of Vietnam. Despite the loss, Meta continues to be one of the most successful businesses worldwide; in addition to Facebook, it operates the immensely popular Instagram and WhatsApp channels.
So why do we at BRANDefenders consider a company that can lose that much money “skilled at online reputation management”? Before we answer that, it’s worth considering the other various scandals that have hit Facebook in recent years. Only then can we explain why its strategies are so successful and worth studying.
Facebook has faced more controversies recently than almost any other company of a comparable magnitude. The $230bn loss wasn’t due to a controversial event but rather the release of quarterly figures that spooked investors. Here’s what else has gone wrong in the past few years.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal refers to a 2018 event where a company associated with Facebook misused users’ data, providing them to third parties to build profiles. Data protection is supposedly an integral part of Facebook’s offering, even though it uses user data for in-platform advertising (this is a significant factor in how it makes its money).
Facebook’s online reputation for data protection came under severe scrutiny. The company suggested that there were lessons to be learned and that it would be conducting an audit. Still, many commentators considered this a fatal blow for the social media giant.
Facebook was also considered to have played a significant role in distributing “fake news.” Its content moderation policies were called into question by lawmakers after finding that “fake news” and hate speech spread easily on Facebook. Despite Facebook’s small army of content moderators, there were limited checks in place.
Facebook’s Online Reputation Management Strategy
How would you restore your online reputation? At BRANDefenders, we’ve studied Facebook’s response to these scandals and its lost valuation. Here’s how it approaches it:
- Rebranding. The name “Facebook” has been tarred for some users. Adopting the “Meta” moniker allowed it to keep offering Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram services without direct association with the Facebook brand.
- Consistent forward movement. Meta continues to acquire and develop new businesses. There’s always something new to talk about – sometimes, that’s the best way to move forward.
- Focusing on its strengths. Meta knows that Facebook is still an insanely attractive product for users and businesses worldwide. It continues to promote and develop these services: users might not forget a scandal, but they’ll ignore it if they still need the service.
Even as Meta, Facebook has faced some shaky moments. Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance in front of lawmakers was criticized by many. However, he remains at the head of the business, and the scandals run out of the headlines. Why?
The key takeaway from our BRANDefenders case study of Facebook is that forward motion is essential. If you get stuck on criticisms, you’re focusing on what your detractors want to talk about. BRANDefenders understands that by focusing on your core product, engaging with customers who need your service, and not getting stuck in the mud, you stand the best chance of restoring your online reputation.
Apple is one of the world’s largest companies, if not the largest of all – in January, it became the first U.S. company to reach a $3tn valuation. Since its creation by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in 1976, it’s gone from strength to strength. But it has also faced numerous controversies along the way.
So why do people still buy Apple products, and how has it protected its online reputation for almost half a century? BRANDefenders investigates.
A charge frequently leveled against Apple is that it engages in anticompetitive behavior. This practice involves thwarting the ambitions of smaller businesses by effectively outmuscling them – a company with Apple’s resources can afford to outspend almost any competitor, and there are laws in place to prevent this type of activity.
This was the reason behind the breakup of Standard Oil in the early 20th Century. Apple has survived such a radical overhaul thus far, although the issue is still being pursued in Europe.
One of the most ubiquitous criticisms of Apple is planned obsolescence. This means more to its customers than anticompetitive practices – Apple products have been criticized for failing according to a planned timescale so that consumers have to buy new products.
Apple’s Online Reputation Management Strategy
If consumers know that Apple products come with a predetermined half-life, why do they buy replacements? Apple’s online reputation management strategy creates fierce brand loyalty by reminding its customers that it simply offers a better product than its competitors.
It also remains quiet when accused. Like Facebook, Apple avoids confronting negative press and instead focuses on pushing its newest offering.
So why does Apple still have such a great online reputation despite various scandals? The team at BRANDefenders has identified these traits:
- Avoiding confrontation. When the wolves are at your door, don’t howl back at them! Apple keeps quiet when it needs to.
- Focusing on its product. Why do people buy the new Apple product when the old one dies unexpectedly? Because it’s better, sleeker, and marketed effectively.
- Building brand loyalty. Long-time customers won’t leave you because of a news story. Apple cultivates a great relationship with its core audience.
The team at BRANDefenders can put these practices into place at your business. We can’t promise you’ll be the new Apple – but you can defend yourself just as effectively.
Tesla is an electronic car manufacturer considered part of Elon Musk’s business empire. It has a unique online reputation management strategy that centers around Musk and the art of distraction.
The manufacturer has faced controversies and criticisms around its business practices – there have been claims that it intimidates or silences whistleblowers. Its treatment of employees has also been questioned repeatedly. However, it’s not Tesla where most people look for the scandals.
Elon Musk is the co-founder and CEO of Tesla and generates more headlines than all his businesses combined. Musk’s erratic behavior has been well-documented, but so have his successes – these have largely kept Tesla as a side-story, allowing the company to continue attracting customers on the strength of its product.
Tesla’s Online Reputation Management Strategy
Distraction and deflection appear to be Tesla’s key to success with widely-publicized wins. The manufacturer has built brand loyalty among electric car buyers on the strength of its product, while Musk has created a loyal following with a carefully cultivated online reputation.
The continued strategy explains why the Tesla board is happy to work with and reward Musk, whereas many other companies might have parted ways with such a controversy-prone CEO.
The media follows the story as much as it creates it. Creating PR away from your primary business, especially on the strength of charisma, can leave your main offering to shine through.
BRANDefenders believes that a lesson to be learned here is to get ahead of the headlines. When you know someone is digging, put up signs next door offering something more interesting to your customers.
How BRANDefenders Uses Online Reputation Management Strategies from Top Companies to Help You
At BRANDefenders, we learn from the best to become the best. We’ve built case studies of many successful companies and how they manage their online reputation so that we can protect your business using their techniques.
When you book a consultation with BRANDefenders, we’ll analyze your business model and determine which strategies would be most suitable. We’ll help you quietly address reputational damage and build a PR strategy that puts your strengths front and center so that you can enjoy continued growth.
Facebook, Apple, and Tesla are all thriving companies today because they know how to get ahead of the game. Make sure you don’t get stuck in the mud – work with a top agency like BRANDefenders to protect your online reputation.