Wednesday, February 26, 2014

SG Social Media Guru: New SAF Social Media Online Reputation Management Strategy?

In the past week, I have personally come across two calls by SAF personnel to join them in fighting negative online attacks against SAF personnel and the SAF. The first was the case of an SAF officer (Major EH Gan) being photographed and slammed for taking an MRT train in uniform, and the second was the case of the allege animal abuse case in Pasir Ris camp.

In both instances, SAF personnel went online to ask friends (presumably fellow SAF personnel) to "fight" the attacks by go online and attacking the protagonists.
As a crisis communications consultant, I have always advocated leveraging on an organization's employees to help communicate the company's position or side of the story in situations just like this. The emphasis being to communicate the organization's official position or story. I however do not advocate using the organization's employees to fight the disinformation, rumors, untruths, misinformation and smears (DRUMS). This is because there is a significant difference in the two. In the former, the employee's role is simply to disseminate information, while in the latter, the employee's role is to "fight" for the organization's reputation.
I strongly discourage employees, no matter how well-intentioned, from getting involved in managing a reputational attack, especially an online one, because proper responses takes training, experience and access to complete and accurate information. Any misstep by the employee will, at best only feed the trolls, but at worst, further damage the organization's reputation.
While I cannot be certain that this is the SAF's new social media online reputation management strategy, there appears to be a possible pattern (twice in a week) and from personnel who are usually silent on such cases. If it is a new approach to online reputation management, then I would caution the SAF to be careful as fighting online trolls is one mission essential task that you have not trained your soldiers for.

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