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December 4, 2019 | Free HR Webinar | Posted by Ascentis

Frequent Questions: The Art of Corporate Clapback

In November, Ascentis hosted a webinar on the Art of Corporate Clapback by Sarah Morgan, Chief Excellence Officer of BuzzARooney LLC. This session addressed what a “clapback” is, examples of effective clapback’s, and tips for how to handle corporate clapback within your own organization. Due to the popularity of this topic, Sarah replied to the questions that came through during the session on our blog. See what other HR professionals are asking about!

We have not been engaged in social media nor have we been doing clapback’s. What do you do about prior negative comments that was posted 6+ months ago?

It is OK to respond to prior negative comments. Start by acknowledging and explaining the reason for the delayed response, then move into thanking the person for their feedback and addressing any issues raised. Apologizing for the delay will go a long way to build trust and transparency with people engaging with your pages.

Is it ever appropriate to terminate an employee for comments made on social media that the company feels are harmful?

Employees have the right to post their thoughts and opinions about the company, its culture, pay practices, etc. on social media without fear of retaliation. I do not recommend creating policies or policing employee social media in ways that would infringe upon their rights this way. Instead, focus energy on gleaning insight from the feedback to improve your workplace.

However, employees are also expected to be ambassadors and representatives of the company. If the employee identifies themselves as an employee of the company on a social site, they have a responsibility to behave in a way that is consistent with the company’s values and to uphold their image. If they do not conduct themselves this way and it threatens to cause harm or significant damage to the company’s business operations and reputation, I believe termination is warranted.

This is a very risky and difficult decision; most companies shy away from this stance for that reason. However, we owe it to our other employees and our customers/consumers and the communities where we do business to be brave against hurt, harm and especially hate. I encourage you to consult with counsel, but to ultimately take a firm stand.

How do you encourage an organization that is passive or passive aggressive to shift their culture to clap-backing?

The biggest encouragement to move from passive to active comes from the statistics on recruiting and retention. The data shows organizations who are more engaging on social media are able to attract and keep their top talent. That benefit should be enough to get your company in the clapback game!

If passive-aggressiveness is your problem, my advice is never say something online that you wouldn’t say to someone standing in front of you. Snark, sarcasm and blanket negativity is rarely anyone’s immediate and only way of communicating. We all have ebbs and flows and triggers that change and escalate how we communicate in real life. We should mimic those same patterns in how we communicate online as well. This keeps our voice balanced and authentic.

I kind of thought the example clapback’s were a little snotty sounding.... is that just me? It just doesn't sound professional. Do you ever get that kind of response on these kinds of clapback’s?

I have not received feedback that the clapback’s were snotty or unprofessional. My hope in teaching about Corporate Clapback’s is to help organizations understand it is OK to fight fire with fire sometimes to defend your organization against attacks online. I do not advocate immediately launching into clapback mode with every comment made about your organization. However, if someone persists in attacks or misinformation, I support matching that energy over being someone’s digital whipping post.

It is OK for you to disagree with this approach. I hope you found other valuable tips and suggestions that you can use to strengthen your organization’s social media presence thru the webinar.

If the company has social media policy and doesn't allow the company name on any social media sites, what are some best practices to maneuver around this?

In today’s times, companies cannot afford to altogether avoid social media. It is unlikely to help your company’s reputation in the majority of industries. Even if a company doesn’t want to maintain a full social media strategy, a basic presence online and on the main social media sites is advisable.

If the company doesn’t allow its name on social sites, perhaps use an abbreviation of the company name, a company nickname/mascot, or a unique hashtag as an identifier instead.

I hope this is helpful.

What is Kununu?

Kununu is Monster.com’s employer review platform website. It functions similar to Glassdoor in allowing employees to post anonymous reviews about your company, its leadership, pay practices, benefits, etc.

You can't terminate an employee for complaining about company or leaders in social media, correct?

You are 100% correct. You cannot and should not terminate employees for complaining about the company or leaders on social media.

To learn more about the Art of Corporate Clapback, check out the on-demand webinar here.

About the Author

Sarah Morgan has been a practicing HR Executive for 20 years. She is currently the Chief Excellence Officer of BuzzARooney LLC, where she provides consulting and coaching surrounding organizational culture, comprehensive health & total wellness benefits, and executive leadership. Sarah still also serves as an active HR practitioner as the Director of Human Resources for a national company headquartered in Raleigh NC.

In 2011, Sarah burst on the social media scene under the pen name “Buzz Rooney,” with her blog, The Buzz on HR. 8 years later, the pen name is gone -- but her blog is going strong with over 10,000 readers each month.

Sarah is also the creator and host of the Leading in Color podcast, a show centering on cultivating positive workplace experiences thru diversity, inclusion and social consciousness. She is a contributing writer for Black Enterprise Magazine and has been featured on the ADP Spark and Ultimate Software blogs. She has amassed more than 20,000 followers across LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And Sarah has been named to the Best HR Practitioner Blogs, the Top Women in HR Tech and the Global Voices of HR lists for consecutive years. She was recently honored as one of the Top 100 Influencers in HR Tech by HR Executive Magazine and one of the top 5 nominees of the Most Inclusive HR Influencers list.

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