Managing your reputation on social media
Social media has given consumers more of a voice than ever before. This means that you can engage your customers more easily, but it also means that unhappy customers have an open platform to spread their negative opinions of your company.
With online reputation management, you can help guide the conversation surrounding your brand on social media in a positive direction and manage the negative sentiments. Here’s how:
Create a social strategy
If you haven’t done so already, create pages and fill out profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Depending on your industry and brand, you can use other relevant platforms (like Instagram and Pinterest), but these four are a solid starting point for any business.
Once you’ve set up your accounts, set aside some time to create a social media strategy. Each platform requires a different approach and content, and it will take some time to develop an individual strategy for what works best for your brand on each.
Finding the right strategy may also require some trial and error, especially if you’re in an industry that isn’t particularly active on social media. However, if you’re just starting out, there are many free resources online with step-by-step instructions for creating a social media marketing plan.
As you create your strategy, it’s important to consider how often you post, the type of content you post, and the voice in which you write. Be sure that everyone who manages your profiles is on the same page in terms of tone, as followers may be confused if half of your posts are funny and conversational while the other half are serious and professional.
Maintain an active presence
Once you’ve created your approach to social media and established who is responsible for managing your accounts, you need to make it a priority to maintain an active presence on each one.
Social media users like consistency, and many of them have come to expect regular updates from the brands they follow. This is helpful for your content strategy – but it also extends to your responses on social media.
As users engage with your posts, be sure to respond in a timely manner. This doesn’t just apply to negative comments, either – engage with all of your followers. This will not only help build good will around your brand, but also encourage even more of your followers to leave positive reviews and feedback. Then, if negative comments do appear, they’ll be a clear minority in comparison.
Monitor the conversation
In addition to responding to the comments users make on your pages, you should also be aware of the larger conversation taking place around your brand. You may not think that this is an issue, since visitors to your social media platforms won’t see all of these comments, but those users’ followers certainly will. Plus, thanks to the search features on most major platforms, it’s easy enough for other users to find negative comments.Thankfully, monitoring what’s said about your company isn’t nearly as difficult as it may sound. Tools like Hoot Suite and Tweetdeck allow you to see when your brand is mentioned, even if users don’t directly tag your social accounts.
Using Tweetdeck, for example, you can divide notifications into several columns – one for regular notifications, one specifically for @ mentions of your handle, and one for links to your site:
In this view, you can easily see what people are saying about your company. And if a thank-you (or other response) is in order, you can send it without even leaving the page.
Have a strategy for responding to negative comments
The majority of your social media strategy should be designed to help you engage with your audience. However, given the nature of the Internet, there will likely come a time when someone voices a negative comment or opinion. And when that happens, it often goes one of two ways: A complete disaster, or an opportunity to show off great PR skills.First and foremost, resist the urge to simply delete the comment. The user will likely call you out on it, which will make it look like you have something to hide. And as Applebee’s can attest to, this can quickly turn into a much bigger deal than you intend:
Instead, provide a genuine and professional response. If the customer was unhappy with their experience, apologize and ask what you can do to fix things. If they’re disappointed in how you run your business, let them know that you appreciate their feedback and ask what you could do better. And if they’re just being rude or disrespectful, direct them to your contact page and let them know that you’d love to hear their concerns.
In most cases, commenters just wait to be heard. And by showing them that you’re listening, you can typically avoid any major issues.