In today’s interconnected world, #cyberbullying can greatly affect businesses. The types of cyberbullying that can occur, such as fictitious reviews, false claims and trolling/harassment can arise for reasons of retribution or corporate positioning for a negotiation. This article addresses why cyberbullying occurs, how to prevent it, and how to address such attacks when they happen. The information applies to businesses, but it can also apply to individuals.
Cyberbullying – Why?
Bullies tend to target those they sense as being vulnerable and weaker than themselves. In business, corporations of any size may target another organization for numerous reasons. They may do so to affect that business’ revenues, its employee morale, or to diminish the company’s reputation.
When negotiating (you’re always negotiating), cyberbullying can be a tactic employed to soften an entity prior to a negotiation. This can occur by anonymously placing false stories about that entity in social media outlets, or having allies serve as its proxy. In either case, such actions can give the appearance of a corporation under siege from multiple points and sources.
Companies remain vigilant about social media activities because they’re aware of the impact that negative postings can have on their business. A corporation can even be susceptible to cyber blackmail. That’s another form of cyberbullying that leaves corporations in a precarious position.
Cyberbullying Example and Handling:
A business associate that owns a diner recalled a time when several male professionals walked into his eatery. They were inebriated, boisterous and disrespectful to other customers and my associate’s employees; my associate did not want to confront his rowdy patrons by calling the police because he didn’t want to lose control of the situation. So, he informed the disorderly customers that his in-store security camera was filming their actions and if they didn’t adopt a mannerable demeanor he’d have to release the video on social media. While he wasn’t threatening them with cyberbullying, he was implying that he’d use cyberspace to ‘out them’ if they didn’t correct their behavior. The men apologized to everyone in the establishment and no further actions were required. The threat of using social media was enough to back them down.
Cyberbullying Prevention, Combating, Overcoming:
As a business owner, to combat cyberbullying:
- Be proactive on social media platforms and garner as many positive comments as possible. Then, if another organization attempts to bully your business, they’ll stand out as an outlier compared to the glowing comments you’ve already received.
- Have business allies and customers at the ready to post rebuttal comments to support your organization against a bully. In extreme cases, have your allies note the efforts that a cyberbully has engaged in, in other environments. Respond in a strong and swift manner to let the bully know that there’s a high cost for him to incur for targeting your business. Remember, bullies tend to pick on easy targets. To combat a bully successfully, insulate your business; don’t make it an easy target.
- In brick-and-mortar businesses, have camera systems installed that captures, in real-time, the actions that a bully might perpetrate in your establishment. Their in-person actions could be the prelude to cyberbullying. Being proactive with a video account of their in-person actions will allow others to see your side of the story more clearly.
If you’re someone that engages in cyberbullying, be mindful of who you attack. What you do to others can come back to harm you. It might do so at the most inopportune time.
As a business owner, be proactive to bullying attempts. Follow the suggestions above and ward off potential attacks before they occur… and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!