Social media has given brands tremendous opportunity over recent years to employ more personalized marketing strategies. It has brought customers in direct contact with companies and allowed for one-on-one engagement in real time. No longer do frustrated consumers turn to 1-800 numbers and feedback forms to issue complaints; they turn to social media. And although social platforms can often be extremely convenient tools, they can also be dangerous to your brand’s reputation if managed improperly.
Every single time your company speaks out socially, your reputation is impacted for better or worse. Once a tweet is sent or a Facebook response is posted, it lives online, and in this day and age, your followers are seeing your updates as soon as they’re published, leaving very little time to make corrections or delete mistakes. It has therefore never been more imperative for your brand to choose its voice wisely. But what steps should you take when making this decision?
- Consider Your Speaker: The person in charge of your social media should really know what they’re doing. You will want someone with a strong customer service background that has studied and adopted your company’s mission statement and philosophy and can be trusted to speak freely on behalf of your brand. Simply knowing how to use social platforms is not enough. Whether we like it or not, social media has become a legitimate stage for companies to present themselves on, and each platform you’re using should be treated with as much importance and professionalism as any other piece of your marketing or PR.
- Use Guidelines: One of the best decisions you can make when it comes to building a solid reputation is utilizing brand guidelines. What is your business’ overall ethos? What tone of voice will you use? Will you have set procedures in place to handle disasters? These questions should be answered before anyone starts responding to customers online to ensure you’re using not only a consistent strategy, but one that has been well thought out and appears professional to your consumers. Preparedness is key.
- Breathe Before Responding: There will absolutely come a time when you’ll receive highly negative feedback online. Regardless of the tone of voice being used against you, never, ever, respond with haste. Your biggest ally in these circumstances will be patience. A patient, practiced response to unruly commenters will get you much further than a terse reply. And if you receive pushback to your answer, move on. There will always be people who are unsatisfied with the way you’re approaching your customer relations, but if you’re generally practicing a strong methodology, these opinions will not matter in the long run for your corporation. Keep your reputation in tact by practicing patience!
- Uniformity Is Key: Put a response strategy in place, and then follow it. Will you be responding hourly, daily, weekly? What tone will you use in your responses? Your clients will grow accustomed to the way in which you reply to inquiries, general feedback and complaints; so stay consistent. You’ll mold your reputation with each post, so take care to form a positive image for yourself.
- Have Fun With It: You will need to establish what “fun” means for your own brand, but some of the most socially successful companies are the ones that know how to use social media in a creative way. A tool like Twitter is a great platform for your brand to have one-on-one dialogue with clients, and you should definitely be treating it seriously, but that doesn’t mean you cannot also be original in your usage. Run campaigns, answer enthused customers lightheartedly (if appropriate for your product), post interesting content; show your fans you know what you’re doing when it comes to social media. This will only make you look more reputable.
Utilizing proper brand reputation management should be at the top of your list when it comes to formulating a strong marketing plan. If you’re going to use social media, use it in your favor. Having a great reputation will do nothing but build your business, so take this task seriously to avoid letting something like this happen to you.
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