A couple of weeks ago we released an article advising people how to claim the Homeworking allowance through the HMRC website. We were expecting a really positive response as it is essentially free money, however, we were flabbergasted by the social media backlash. We received comments and messages such as ‘Parasites trying to profit from you‘ and ‘Go directly to HMRC‘… The Facebook heading even said ‘Here is how to make your claim through the HMRC online microservice’ but people were so quick to blindly comment without reading a single word of what was written. This got us thinking. If people were so quick to comment on something intended to be so positive, how intense would the backlash be if we had actually done something wrong?
Trial by Facebook seems to be a growing trend that could severely damage your brand. In our case, we were fortunate enough to be able to delete these comments as the post was on our Facebook business suite. If however something derogatory had been written by a third party about our firm, or yours, then this could have had a devastating effect on our brand.
The fat dog…
An interesting case that we came across recently was about a roofing company and a Jack Russel. The owner of the roofing company took a picture of the dog because it was so overweight, the dog’s owner saw this and in retaliation took a picture of the roofer’s van stating ‘Warning, this man is trying to steal my dog’… Now the irony here is killing me as the dog’s owner is clearly irresponsible enough to let the dog get so overweight in the first place, however, the since-deleted post went viral… and quickly. People were so quick to jump on this completely innocent man and his companies brand was very clearly visible on the no doubt hard-working roofers van. The worst thing for this poor chap was that he had no control over the comments, the shares, and the devastating impact this was going to have on his business.
So what can you do if this happens to your business?
Contact the original owner of the post
Your first point of call should be the owner of the original post. Whoever wrote the original post has the power to permanently delete it. If your post is deleted then regardless of how many shares this post has had then this will permanently remove the post from whichever social platform that it was shared on.
If the original owner of the post will not, or does not know how to delete it then it would be advisable to contact Facebook directly. You may have to prove that the post is illegitimate, however, in recent years they have been pretty good at removing illegitimate content… Take Donald Trump as the perfect example here.
As an absolute last resort, you could take legal action against the original author of the post. This will likely cost a pretty penny but even a letter from a solicitor may be enough to have the post removed.
A quick shout-out to the aforementioned roofer… We genuinely feel for you here so please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to offer you free accountancy for life to help you rebuild :).