Social media can provide you with an ocean of possibilities when it comes to furthering your brand. You could be riding waves of praise under clear blue skies one minute and be sunk by a sudden storm of negative reviews the next. A lot is at stake when you promote your business through social media and you can’t expect it to weather the storm on its own. Besides the product or service your enterprise provides, it also carries with it other precious cargo: your reputation.
By promoting your business on social media, you better your chances of building strong, long-lasting relationships with your customers and improving your SEO, but you also leave yourself vulnerable to negative criticism and social media mishaps. From anonymous online mischief makers to outraged customers, these pessimistic reviews could break you. However, there is also the potential for good reviews on social media that could very well make you. Here are four tips on how to better survive the rough seas and manage your online brand’s reputation:
1. Keep an eye on your brand
In order to even begin managing your reputation, you have to keep a sharp lookout for what is being said about you. Maybe if the lookouts on the Titanic had spotted that iceberg a little sooner, they too could have avoided disaster. The same goes for British Airways.Annoyed by the airline’s failure to find his father’s lost suitcase, one irate customer paid for this Promoted Tweet:
The tweet went unanswered for eight hours and was seen by more than 76,000 users before a BA social media representative responded. The tweet became a bigger problem than it should have because of the company’s failure to monitor its social media sites and immediately handle the situation.
The best way to stay on top of your online reviews is to use tools such as iWebtools, Google Analytics, Hootsuite, and Tweetdeck to track mentions of your product or service so that you can respond in a timely manner to both negative and positive mentions. Because you are most likely utilizing multiple forms of social media, it is probably best to keep all mentions in one place so none of them gets lost in the shuffle. Not only do you have customers frequenting your business’s Facebook and Twitter accounts with their complaints, but they have also taken to posting their comments on sites such as Yelp and Reddit. Frequent auditing of search engine results is also an effective means of monitoring what is surfacing about your business and how it is being represented.
2. Engage with brand detractors
When filtering through your online findings, it is imperative that you respond to negative attacks as quickly as possible, like plugging holes in the bottom of a leaky boat. While these attacks may be instigated by individuals, they can easily be seen by anyone and create a public image crisis that could hurt your brand. Contact the creator of any negative reviews immediately and see if you can resolve the problem. Don’t plug up the leaky hole halfheartedly though; the repair job won’t last very long and soon there will be another leak. O2, a UK telecom company, was undergoing a serious network outage and their Twitter account was overflowing with tweets from frustrated customers. Luckily, they did not follow Applebee’s lead and delete their account altogether after being berated for their generic corporate responses. Instead, O2 responded directly to these tweets with honesty and a little bit of humor. Their sincere approach was well-received and the tides changed dramatically in their favor as a result. As you can see from O2’s response to crisis, getting these negative commenters to engage with you so they open up about any difficulties or qualms is critical so that you can solve the issues immediately and no one else is affected. Maybe your friendly and efficient responses will even turn those bad reviews into good ones.
3. Use brand advocates to your advantage
As detrimental as bad reviews are, good evaluations can put some extra wind in your sails and provide a great boost for your brand’s online reputation. According to Brad Nelson, Product Manager for Starbucks, positive feedback is helpful because, not only does it drive foot traffic, but it also “say[s] what you want, for you.” Retweeting or reposting someone else’s affirmative comments about your business is effective because it serves as outside proof of customer satisfaction, which is more telling than what you can claim about yourself. It also shows that you have a following that is engaged with your social media presence. Don’t forget to appreciate these customers, not only by using their content, but by reciprocating their goodwill and reaching out to thank them over social media for their loyalty and support.
4. Tread Carefully with Customer Interactions
If you have a reputation of quality customer service, or would like to, it is important to be aware of how your PR representatives interact with customers. Everything said online comes across differently than it would in person. What might be thought of as direct and to the point, could come across as rude and clipped. The real-time nature of social media also leads individuals to respond in the heat of the moment without weighing the consequences. The owners of one company, Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro, did not pause to think before lashing out on the store’s Facebook page with a number of hostile posts following an unfavorable appearance on a television show. They railed against critics on Yelp and Reddit who were berating them for their unflattering behavior, but their attempts to silence commenters only incited a greater social media frenzy:
This post is just one of many examples of social media mismanagement, in which the representatives used the platform before thinking about the repercussions or how they would be portrayed. This particular outburst furthered a public relations disaster and damaged their reputation. So, the next time you are communicating with customers, take care to represent the brand to the best of your ability. Think before responding, and then do so in a way that is clear and efficient, but friendly. Always have someone proofread your response before posting it to see if they pick up on any unintended undertones, grammar mistakes, or a lack of clarity; even the captain has to have a first mate help them out every now and then.
Managing your brand’s online reputation can be a daunting task due to the various platforms that must be monitored and the real time nature of social media. However, it doesn’t have to be; by following these 4 tips, you can stay in control of your online presence and be prepared to handle any criticism you may receive. Keep in mind that the benefits of remaining vigilant about your social media can outweigh the negative outcomes.
Want more advice for how best to manage your brand’s reputation online? Check out our website where we offer services such as reputation management assessments.