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SOCIAL MEDIA: Business reputations 'threatened' by social networking staff


  Videos can attract negative comments


Business consultants are leading a double life online that threatens to harm their professional reputation and often flies in the face of their social media strategy according to a study of top professional firms.

The study of online culture by social media consultants The Conversation Group, looked at how professional consultants including lawyers, auditors, bankers, VCs and trade associations were being portrayed in online communities such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Digg, YouTube and Flickr.

While companies tried to portray a controlled and mature image on their websites, amateur videos, photos, articles and comments on social networking sites often saw them looking neglected and the object of ridicule, despite receiving the most interest and responses.

Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, McKinsey and Deloitte, are among those singled out for poor online image according to the research, which found them to be "bad dancers, tasteless singers, boy racers and car washers."

A video entitled "Team Dancing by PwC China Staff - hilarious" for example, is the most viewed video on YouTube about PricewaterhouseCoopers.

One commenter in response to an Ernst & Young video on YouTube, "After watching this video, I have withdrawn my application to Ernst & Young... I can't work for a company I don't respect".

Mark Adams, chief operating officer of TCG and author of the report said, "The website is passé - it is not about what the company says about itself anymore but what the online communities say about the company.

"Professional services firms are essentially ignoring their online presence. As a result, it is dominated by trivia but they do not recognise the effect this is having on their business."

He added "Anything less than this can seriously damage their brand and could even constitute a breach of control and good Governance."