Are You at Risk from Cyber Bullying?
No one wants to be picked on. Being a victim of bullying is something we like to think we can leave behind us when we become adults. For a great many people, the internet is changing that. Cyber bullying is affecting many of us, and it is having an impact on businesses as well as individuals.
In a digital age, technology touches many different areas of our lives. Much of this impact is positive, but there is a negative flipside, and a big part of that is cyber bullying.
Most cyber bullying statistics focus on young people: BullyingUK reports that 43.5% of its respondents have experienced bullying through social media, and 56% have witnessed online bullying.
However, this is not the whole story. Cyber bullying is also a business issue.
Online Opportunities and Threats
The internet is full of opportunity for businesses and organisations to connect with their target audiences digitally.
Social media platforms provide excellent means for digital marketing and opening new channels of communication.
However, whereas openness and engagement are critical for building a brand online, they also provide potential inroads for cyber bullies.
Digital opportunity can turn into digital crisis, with cyber bullies’ online attacks becoming coordinated campaigns with serious reputational consequences for the victims.
In these circumstances, many employees of businesses on the receiving end can feel personally attacked, so the impact goes beyond the business and touches individuals.
Dealing with Cyber Bullying
Coping with this kind of online antagonism is never easy. Treat it as a potential threat and take the sensible option to be prepared and have a strategy in place in case such online bullying occurs.
It is important to identify it early. It will appear different compared to standard complaints or criticism.
It is likely to be less concerned with resolving a specific issue and more likely to use inflammatory language designed to encourage bad feeling towards you. The language may be offensive, or inappropriate.
Broadly, there are two kinds of cyber bullying:
- Isolated incidents
- Concerted campaigns.
With the former, sometimes the best response is to ignore it. With the latter, however, this might not be an option.
With your reputation at stake, it is vital to stay on-brand, to be calm, consistent and assertive rather than aggressive.
The primary aim should be to diffuse the situation. In some instances, this will involve proactively promoting a positive image and reputation-building, even if it is not in direct response to the bullying campaign.
Above all, it is about resilience and persistence. You can beat the bullies, but you must work at it.
Bullying is a business issue. If you’ve got a problem with it, please contact me.Mark Cushway is the CEO of the Inspired Group of companies and is passionate about employee welfare, engagement and motivation. Connect with Mark on Twitter and LinkedIn. This blog post is also available as a podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud.