At “Social Media 2.0: Reputation Management”, a WWJ Newsradio 950 Business Breakfast, our panel of experts discussed the latest ways businesses are managing their image, responding to criticism and turning negatives into golden opportunities using social media.

Hear our panel discussion:

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8 a.m. — A nice crowd is gathering at Schoolcraft College in Livonia this morning for the second in WWJ Newsradio 950’s series of business breakfasts on “Social Media and Your Business.” We’ve got terrific panelists and great sponsors —, Flame Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electrical, the law firm of Safford & Baker PLLC, and our sister station, Amp Radio 98.7. WWJ Newsradio 950’s Vickie Thomas is the moderator.

8:15 a.m. — Ivan Frank of Fluency Media kicks things off by pointing out that you must have a reputation online in order to defend it. That means making sure your brand is known online — and known positively.

8:20 a.m. — Ed Garsten, head of electronic communications at Chrysler Group, talks about Chrysler’s long and storied history with the new media, including the pioneering Firehouse blog, which started six years ago and recently shut down. The blog made headlines — among other ways, by taking on Big Oil for jacking up oil prices. He also addressed the infamous ‘F-bomb’ incident with Chrysler’s Facebook page, and said that in similar situations, “the quick answer is, watch what’s happening, see how much this is going to take hold, and get ahead of it.”

8:30 a.m. — Social media is a legal mine field, according to Randy Safford of the law firm Safford & Baker PLLC. For one thing, he said, when employers look up potential employees on social media, “you learn things about people you are not legally entitled to know. What do you do with that information?” He said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is studying the issue.

8:40 a.m. — Buck Head, social media director at Amp Radio, also reminds those in the audience to remember that the people on the other end of your social media contacts are, after all, real human beings — so ratings and clicks should not be your only guide.

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8:45 a.m. — Our first question from the audience — what about humor in social media? Be careful here, the panel says. Bad jokes can be really, really bad. On the other hand, don’t forget to have at least a little fun. Garsten recalled Chrysler’s response to a reporter’s question about competitor Ford monitoring the length of bathroom breaks. Chrysler’s response was that was a little too anal.

8:50 a.m. — Measuring ROI online is another tricky issue, especially, Frank said, when you sell off the Internet and the Web is more a tool you use to communicate with customers rather than sell. But that’s also where the Internet can be a real differentiator between you and your competition. “From an ROI perspective, social media is going to be very difficult if not impossible to tie back to a particular sale,” Frank said. “It’s the total of the conversations that move customers closer to a sale or further away from a sale.” Garsten said that not every company has a culture that will jump right into social media, so senior management needs to be convinced of some ROI or they won’t make the effort.

8:55 a.m. — What about an online business bully? Frank said bad news happens all the time when you deal with a lot of customers, so you need to have a plan in place so these things don’t surprise you. First, he said, react right away to negative comments — deal with it right away and try to get the complainer offline. Second, realize that social media are an ongoing stream of content, so you can push down the bully’s comments by posting regularly yourself. And Garsten said companies should reach out directly to complainers and make an honest attempt to fix the problem.

9:05 a.m. — What about the balance between slang and formal language in social media? Frank said different social media have different standards, as do different age groups. “You have to understand your audience and understand your brand and match it up as appropriate,” he said. And Garsten said that social media are by nature more conversational than traditional media.

9:10 a.m. — Buck Head describes the growth of the Foursquare location-based application with which users can “check in” at a location and invite friends. He said companies are using these applications to run specials. “For retail, it’s really good,” he said. “Believe it or not these pants were 15 percent off because I checked in at a store at Twelve Oaks Mall.”

9:15 a.m. — Garsten describes Chrysler’s social media strategy vs. rival Ford Motor Co. He said Ford was the last of the Detroit Three in to the social media but that they now run a fine program. He said Chrysler has had three owners in the last six years, “and the middle owner did not care about social media.” He said Chrysler is busily making up for lost time but that new owner Fiat “really, really gets it.”

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9:20 a.m. — Frank says nonprofits are finding social media hugely useful in fundraising — and for interacting with the audience that the nonprofit serves. He said a local e-commerce company, Moosejaw, had created a nonprofit fundraising tool called