(Capital Magazine) – For any business person, brand, and company to grow in market share, sales volumes, revenue and profit, there must be positive influence on their financial performance, contributing to the growth in Balance Sheet over a period of time.
That is influence is cultivated through Reputation Management, which is mastered not only by actually creating it through customer promise, meeting that promise, and managing critics, good or bad. Social media gives access to all manner of criticking, and because most Zimbabweans naturally feel oppressed, bad reputation is easier and faster spread despite validity of information.
Introspectively speaking, the current Social Media shutdown in Zimbabwe by the government through the Minister of State for National Security, can in fact affect a reputation, revenue, and eventual balance sheet of a business person, brand or company.
1n 2018, Schweppes Limited was under fire from Social Media backlash, that temporarily affected sales of the Mazoe Orange Crush product, and its reputation as well.
Pindula News wrote, “Schweppes Zimbabwe comes under fire for changing the ingredient formulation on the Mazoe syrups and Mazoe Orange Crush without informing consumers. The company issues out a press statement saying the sweeteners they were using to produce the beverages were thoroughly researched ingredients in the world where scientific evidence had confirmed their safety. They also said that the artificial sweeteners helped in reducing sugar intake for the consumers. Shortly afterwards, following backlash from consumers on social media, the company announced it would be introducing a variant of the Mazoe Orange Crush with the old ingredients.”
Through Social Media, all manner of perception was shared as truths by customers, activists, and critics, and most of the content was not positive, making Mazoe a bad product, even though the management team had explained their reasons for product development changes they had done for the consumers.
If it can happen to Mazoe Orange Crush, the 88-year-old product, what makes your name, business, or brand immune to attacks from Social Media terrorists that use information to war against anyone and anything they desire at that time? Nothing!
Information is now a tool for war, and that war is not only for nations, but also for business persons, brands, and that affecting Social Equity in the form of reputation, which can be quantifiable in a Balance Sheet as Intellectual Property in fixed assets.
A bad social media storm can devalue a trademark or patent, affecting the earnings of the product or service, and hence an unwarranted depreciation of the asset.
There is need to master the art of reputation management for business persons, brands, and companies in Zimbabwe, and information management on the internet is vital in this day and age.
The Minster of Information, Publicity, and Broadcasting Services, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, at the Zimbabwe National Defence University recently said, “Measures to mitigate the negative effects of the proliferation of information should also include the crafting of laws that help in regulating social media usage by entrenching accountability and sanctions to offenders.
Zimbabwe is working on a Cyber Bill which has passed the Cabinet Committee on Legislation and is about to be tabled in Parliament for adoption. The Bill seeks to guide the formulation of a Zimbabwe Cyber Policy that will ensure that the internet and related technologies are used for the good of society not to violate national security.”
There is an Information Revolution that needs to be mastered and regulated by governments, to protect the good intentions, inventions, and lay rules of engagement for contentions within society, mostly affecting economics.
The GDP of a nation can only grow when there is productivity more than anything else, and without the spread of good reputation for business persons, brands, and companies, there will not be growth for industries, and a nation at large.
Bad reputation must never be promoted, but there must also be a balance in what determines the badness of reputation, who judges, and punishes offenders, bearing in mind that rehabilitation of an offender is what is key as well.
Mazoe Orange Crush did nothing wrong that cyber terrorists on Social Media were given the right to say wrong things and spread fakes news about the same.
In the age of Social Media, a larger portion of a product value is actually reputation management, as that is what directly translates the intellectual property into accounting value that is placed as Income and Asset value addition.
The Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Bill must be enacted in order to restore order in cyberspaces in Zimbabwe as industry and commerce is now conducted more on internet and related technologies than in conventional platforms.