Whether we know it or not, many of us have an online reputation. If we’ve ever posted a photo, a review, or even just an opinion on social media, your online reputation or your ‘digital footprint’ has already taken shape. A digital footprint is pretty much as it sounds, a place where you’ve left your mark online! This not only goes for individuals, but for schools and organisations as well. The only difference is, it’s the external opinions that may shape our reputation more than we do.
Have you ever checked reviews on a restaurant before you decide to book, or looked up a company on social media? Of course you have, who hasn’t! It gives us a sense of security and allows us to develop a form of trust towards them. Reputation in this sense is important as it can essentially drive business and exposure!
But while we would all love to be at the centre of praise, we all know that this may not be the case, all of the time. Negative feedback is unfortunately a big part of life that is very difficult to avoid – we are all only human after all! Whilst we may embrace compliments and praise, negativity can be bit trickier to navigate.
Schools in particular face a lot of exposure online with a busy community of parents, pupils and staff, all having access to online channels. Face to face interactions are not as popular as they once were, and with the COVID-19 pandemic causing disruption to the way we interact, keyboards seem to be the place to go if anyone has a concern.
What to do if your school receives negative comments
Regardless of whether someone is right or wrong, a negative comment towards your school can always conjure some worried feelings. Despite the situation, it’s important to try and stay resilient and think positively about how to resolve the issue at hand. A public response may not be the best thing to put out as it may further expose the problem to others. Can it be handled via a private message or a one to one meeting? Showing willingness to try and sort out a problem can go a long way in the eyes of others!
To learn more about using tools such as social media to communicate, our Social Media Checklists are there to guide you on important online safety topics. The Facebook Family of Apps Guide is also a great way to learn about broadcasting school messages to a wider audience through an official school channel as well as internally between staff.
What to do if a professional receives negative comments
When negativity relates to an individual, then this may need to be handled with a different approach. The school have a duty of care to all its students and this should also extend to staff. If an individual staff member is experiencing this kind of negativity from the school community, it is first important to understand what has happened and determine if this is an attack on them personally or professionally as well as whether this is something that needs to be taken further. An attack online could be very personal which may go beyond the school gates and refer to a more private matter. Our professionals also recorded a podcast about online reputation.
Social media is a place for people to express their opinions and experiences. Sometimes these may make for uncomfortable reading, but do not breach the rules of the platform. In these cases, it is best to engage with the person offline and try find a mutual resolution. When these posts become directly abusive or threatening towards the school or individual, this is where it may cross a line and more decisive action like reporting the content can be made.
I need help about my online reputation
If you as the individual are concerned personally or professionally about your online reputation, then you can always contact the POSH helpline for free advice and support. Professionals mental health is rapidly becoming an important topic for discussion. The annual POSH report has already shown that almost half the recorded cases relate to professionals, largely concerning incidents of bullying and harassment perpetrated by students or reputational issues arising as a result of allegations, reviews or complaints made online. The work that the helpline does shows how important this support is.
Take a look at the advice provided by Report Harmful Content to find out how to make reports on commonly used social networking platforms. In addition to this, anyone over the age of 13 who has submitted a report to industry about harmful content but not had the response they hoped for, can raise this with Report Harmful Content. The annual report for RHC’s pilot year of operation showed that of the content escalated to industry, 92% was successfully actioned (e.g. removed/ restricted/ regained access to) and 62% was done so within 72 hours, demonstrating a high level of service speed and efficiency.