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Does your business maintain a YouTube channel? How about a Facebook page? Have you looked at them lately? Who’s minding your corporate reputation on these social media properties?

At coffee this morning with a friend and business associate, our conversation turned to digital media and the variety of improper uses companies allow in order to stand out on YouTube, Vimeo and other popular social sites. The pressure to do more than just have a presence is immense. Short videos displaying the benefits of new products and solutions are great. Celebrity spokespeople providing a reality-like testimonial for your thousands of Facebook fans — a marketer’s best dream. And if your company is lucky enough to have a video go viral the result can be felt on the Richter Scale. But what’s the impact on reputation when your latest social media campaign fails to follow branding guidelines, or worse, crosses a line from being edgy to having poor taste?

Case in point: A certain vodka manufacturer posted an ad on its Facebook page. The ad’s  photo and message had a clear connection with rape. Smart? Do vodka companies need to care that their social media outreach, targeting a 21 – 34 demographic, ultimately reaches mainstream audiences as well? Is the company risking a reputation backlash with a clever but ill-advised ad that generates tons of earned media coverage?

Of course!

So some words of caution to consider.

Monitor your organization’s YouTube and social media efforts.

Make sure a trusted communications leader scrutinizes your organization’s social media content before it gets posted.

If you pursue social media outreach, keep it up-to-date with frequent and timely posts, video and interactive content.

Corporate reputation takes years to establish, but can be blown apart with a 60 second video designed to create interest, be edgy or skewer the competition. Do you really want your reputation to be the next corporate pinata in the business section of the news paper?

Take serious stock in everything tied to your brand. And don’t be afraid to can that great social media idea when you sense it might turn into a disaster.

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Junk Mail

There’s a particular junk mail sender that I’m sick with up to here (holding my hand at eyeball level).

The offender, Twin Cities Values, puts more worthless paper in the form of a multi-page ad supplement, which represents nothing but worthless crap, in my mail box than even the most offensive politician 10 days before election day.  Twin Cities Values is owned by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The lovely ad mistress sales rep responsible for actually managing the ad space sold in this waste of paper is Shelly Neilson. Not my best friend, dear Shelly. The ad circular is mailed to all “Valued Customers” in neighborhoods across the Twin Cities region and features worthless advertising paid for by the likes of Menards, Rainbow, Northstar Home Fitness, Pizza Hut, Screen Mobile (a full page ad), Milios Sub Sandwich Shop, El Rodeo Restaurant and The World Market.

Local business owners and managers who choose to waste part of your valuable advertising budget on the  Twin Cities Values rag published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, please be aware, this twice weekly circular goes immediately into my recycling bin. I’m adamant about it. However, many of my neighbors (valued customers, one and all) aren’t all so diligent. They allow the worthless piece of shit that is distributed by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, to be blown around the neighborhood streets and lawns, filling up the gutters and littering the ground no matter where one looks.

Nice job Star Tribune. Nice work Shelly and all your underlings at Twin Cities Values.  Your worthless piece of shit advertising circular and the local businesses in my community who choose to waste their money supporting this rag of a paper now reside on my “worst” of all-time list.

And I refuse to step foot into any of the businesses that continue to support your effort bent on wasting trees and littering the neighborhood.

There. I said it.

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