Reputation Basics For Every Social Media Manager (Fiona Lucas)

Fiona Lucas

What exactly is reputation and how does it tie in with the work of a social media manager?

On one hand, you have the personal and/or business reputation of the social media manager (you)—and on the other, you have the reputation of the businesses you work for/your clients, which you manage as part of your role.

This may be indirect in some cases—or at the fore for others, if you are the face of the brand.

Understanding how what you do impacts reputation, and how to manage the basic aspects which underpin reputation, will help you develop your own and strengthen those of your clients.

My reputation equation is this:

Perception + Experience = Reputation

How our brand or ourselves are perceived, and then the experience that others have with both us and our brand (or those we work with), together influence how others view us and therefore the reputation we build with them.

Perceptions are easily formed from visual stimuli (think images, photos, memes) and from the written or spoken word (posts, videos, comments, etc). It can take a lot of work to build trust in a brand, but only seconds for it to be destroyed, so it is important to always have reputation at the forefront of our minds. It’s not just what we say, but how we work towards minimizing risk, that speaks volumes to our clients.

Before you yawn and fancy a nap, stick with me, because this really is important stuff—but often we find our clients don’t really understand, so this can be a great opportunity to have that conversation and further bolster their trust in you.

The 4 Rs of Reputation

When I was working in cybersafety for my biz Futureproof Your Kids, I developed a framework I called the 4 Rs of Reputation.

These pillars are:

  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Resilience
  • Research

I’ve found that this framework adapts well into the business/corporate environment, although with the addition of two extra Rs:

  • Review
  • Reliability

Using these together gives us an excellent framework for minimizing risk to a business reputation. When we minimize risk, we build trust. With trust comes a stronger reputation. When it comes to community, these pillars are vital.

Let’s briefly explore each of these pillars in a simple way:


It goes without saying that a business must be respectful of its clientele, but in today’s climate, respect must be broad.

Inclusivity and diversity are so important to build strong community and brand. When we are considering reputation, respect also includes our corporate and workplace culture. We want to ensure that everyone feels included and motivated to engage, build a sense of loyalty (both ways brand and to client), and above all demonstrate how much we value those we engage with.

Self-respect is important here as well. We thankfully live in a world where we can share thoughts and feelings quite freely, but it can come at a cost depending on the environment. Learning how to respectfully navigate a difficult or controversial topic is a vital skill.

Tip: Make sure that in sharing personal information or feelings, we don’t accidentally reflect on a client or employer. If you have had a stressful day, be wary of making it sound like the person or company you were working for wasn’t supportive. (it’s another whole topic if issues within the company such as bullying exist—but that’s not for today’s brief).


There are several areas where this vital value comes into play.

Responsibility for our actions: if we make a mistake we need to own it, own up to it, and make repair.

Responsibility to our clients/customers: As a business, if something is not going right—a product is delayed, found to be faulty, etc.—get in first, before the bad publicity. Own it. If you see something is not going right online, go to your client and get ahead of it.

Responsibility to our clients also comes into play whenever we are using third-party apps with their accounts. Be mindful that each app you connect to another account does mean there is an opportunity for a potential breach. Be especially careful if you need to use your login information (or your client’s) to provide access to an account.

Choose them wisely and use reputable programs such as Agorapulse. It goes without saying to never use apps that offer likes or followers—this is risky and puts not just your security but that of followers and friends at risk.

We also need to be responsible in making sure that we are not forwarding malicious links or malware. Having clear guidelines on how staff should handle emails, and strict rules within a community about what can be shared, can really help in this area.

Case Study Scenario

A small business owner in the vegan leather industry had an inexperienced staff member working as their social media manager. A viral video was shared on their socials in the hopes of gaining more views for the client. The video was of an elephant painting.

Unfortunately, the truth of such painting is that the elephants are put through some pretty full-on and quite aggressive training to force them to learn how to paint flowers and trees, etc. The backlash about the video highlighting cruelty and exploitation of animals was ferocious.


Immediately what was needed was the video removed, with an acknowledgement and apology made about the content. The owner also donated to a known charity that supported rehabilitation of elephants. What happened was a great discussion about the importance of education about the use of animals, and so a very tricky situation ended up being quite a positive one, with the owner taking responsibility (and not blaming staff).

There was of course a lesson for their social media manager here, too. But it demonstrates the need for fast action and taking responsibility.


I think the past few years have been a test of resilience for many. But despite the pain these past years have caused, it has meant we’ve needed to build a bit more hardiness into the way we approach work and life.

Resilience is kind of inbuilt into social media managers—I’m sure you would agree! We roll with the changes on an almost daily basis. For most of us, change in the social media field, or any change, isn’t too big a deal. It’s just how we manage it that can be a test.

When we build up our resilience, we also bolster our mental health. Providing a supportive environment for clients and community can help them to roll with changes, too.

Tip: If you manage a community, consider having “debrief” sessions where moderators and managers can discuss issues which may have been challenging or confronting.


Way before “fake news” was a thing, I encouraged people to research.

To do formal research you really need a tertiary degree as it takes a lot of work, but we can help to build and protect our reputation by making sure that we do look at various reliable sources. When writing articles we should clearly indicate whether a piece is evidence-based and well-researched, or whether it is an opinion or thought leadership piece.

Tip: Always quote the resources that were used, and aim for balance.

Depending on the business you are working for as a social media manager, there may be some controversial areas (the wellness or political arenas come to mind), so making sure to have a balanced approach will build trust.

For example, my framework was borne of my own observations, backed by studies and research, so I would put it in the “thought leadership” arena. Thought leadership encourages discussion and debate. Opinion can often be stronger and not quite as willing to be challenged.

When you are working in a community, you will have a broad base of individual thought processes–therefore, it can be even more important to allow for (well-moderated) discussion. Attempts to stop discussion can be seen as a negative and may lead to bad reviews.

Tip: The importance of clear guidelines and rules around a community are vital so that it is possible to end a discussion if the results are not being positive or productive.

The additional two Rs of Reputation


To build reputation and trust it is important that our clients, employees, and other stakeholders have a sense of reliability about the business. When they can comfortably predict and have faith that should an issue arise, or a new change be in the wind, that the business will have their backs and be on top of it.

Reliability comes to the fore in the case of any kind of cyberattack on a business. Fast action to minimize damage is important, and getting information out to clients to keep them informed is vital.


When it comes to review, it is so vital that as social media managers we are listening and taking note of what is being said about the business. (Shout out to Agorapulse for providing such a great tool for this!).

The main areas for Review are:

  • Monitor brand mentions and reviews
  • Respond promptly to reviews (whether positive or negative) and to questions
  • Reach out to the poster—if it’s negative, publicly show you are actively trying to get clarity and/or resolve an issue. If it’s a question, find or direct them to the answer.

By putting these together, we demonstrate that we are there to build and protect the brand, along with its clients, community, and employees. All of this builds trust.

Reputation Basics Part Two: Security Checklist

Fiona Lucas @CommuniFi
Hi I am Fiona -(Fi) :blush:Im an author, social media strategist and online community strategist and consultant. I help you make sense of social and humanise your brand .
TikTok: @filucas_irespectonline

Tell Us Below:

How do you manage your brand’s (or client’s) reputation online?


Yes, I agree, you have to have those 3 main factors. Respect is so overlooked and left by the wrist side. I’m so blessed to know when someone is not being respectful and how to walk away. I feel so much better knowing I didn’t scope to their level.


So true, Jessica—sometimes the best response is not to engage!


Sure depends if we are speaking person or brand. Of course if someone is commenting and it’s not appropriate but you worry they would react - if the platform allows you can hide the comment.

There are times when you don’t want to engage but if the most part it’s great too let your community know you are listening - even if it’s only with a :+1: