All successful businesses have iron-clad social media strategies designed to deal with the good and the bad of online marketing. How about yours?
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It is incredible that despite the unmistakable influence social media can have on a company’s reputation, many businesses (particularly B2B) are reluctant to take it seriously, neglecting its potential as a tool that can foster both growth and goodwill among customers.
There is a highly volatile element to social media, so it’s important to keep that at the forefront of your mind when interacting with current customers, attracting new ones, and protecting your business’ reputation online. Social media is here to stay so, why not make the most of it?
Statistics show that more than 300 million people used Twitter every month in 2015 and the number is increasing (there were only 30 million in 2010). These people are, or could be, your customers. Are you capitalizing on this open channel of communication? Of course you can’t control what people say, but you can make sure you’re ready to respond. Is social media a vital part of your business plan, or just an afterthought?
Whether or not your business has an online presence, it won’t stop your customers or staff from talking about you on social channels. Ideally, you need to make sure you are involved in these conversations, and not just in case someone says something untoward.
Don't wait until it's too late, get involved in online chatter
When you have customers that are fiercely loyal to you and your brand, interacting with them online lets them know you appreciate their support and helps build valuable relationships.
You can also learn not just what people love about you, but also identify areas of improvement. Facing the critics and interacting openly with people who have complaints publicly demonstrates you are determined to do your best and improve your customers’ experiences.
By answering individual comments or complaints, you can establish real-time contact with customers. As a result, your reputation could greatly improve as well as the growth of your overall business, as new customers look for companies that are transparent and accessible.
Last but not least, if your brand gets caught in a reputational crisis, your partners and the media will look for live updates about the situation online. Posting regular messages could provide an alternative to endless press releases and press conferences, not to mention unfounded speculation.
Social media was designed to enable its users to share information quickly so why not use it for company news?
A tweet can be like a mini press conference - without the admin
Handled with expertise, social media can be a valuable tool rather than a threat to your business. Here are a few takeaway tips for the person responsible in your business for your social media accounts:
· Be prepared:
As the saying goes - ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. Social platforms can be brilliant assets, but only if you invest the proper amount of time and money in them. Also, the person or the team in charge needs to be armed with the right information in order to respond to enquiries and share information on-brand.
Here are a few questions you might find useful to think about: Have you invested in social media monitoring? Have you done research into what channels your customers and prospects use most? Does the team understand your company’s messaging and values? Are they ready to respond in a crisis? Do they know what steps to follow?
· Be honest:
Customers expect to have human interactions online and the voice you use on social media needs to be relatable and represent your company’s culture. Having real conversations with customers through social media means that even if you make mistakes, people will value your honesty.
A study by BRANDfog found that around two-thirds of UK respondents believe that a company whose executives use social media to communicate its mission, values and purpose is more trustworthy. Show that your brand wants to do the right thing and your reputation will thank you for it.
· Be quick:
Speed is pivotal. One recent survey from Convince & Convert reveals that 40 per cent of customers complaining on social media expect a response in under an hour and 32 per cent in fewer than 30 minutes. What’s more, a crisis is no respecter of time, nor will a customer wait for you to be in the office to post a negative comment.
It might actually be the opposite! Is your team set to deal with this? Have you taken the necessary measures to make sure you’re keeping an eye on sentiment?
In the midst of a generation with social media flowing through their veins, are you paying enough attention? Burying your head in the sand concerning social media may expose you and your business to unnecessary reputational risk, so it’s time to take the reins and get connected with the people who matter most.