How Businesses Benefit From Social Media
Don’t be one of those well-known companies that ruined their reputation with one social media campaign. Pepsi’s anti-Black Lives Matter commercial went viral online for all the wrong reasons. An unfortunate McDonald’s hack seriously trashed POTUS on Twitter. The Department of Education misspelled a popular author’s name. Whether it’s in your control or not (thanks, hackers), your company’s social media is your responsibility.
Reputation management is a necessity for businesses today, and it’s something that everyone from high-level execs to the marketing department should keep in mind when doing anything public (or that could be accidentally made public). Social media can help shape and control your company’s reputation. You have to be strategic, though. There’s a lot at stake.
Create a Social Media Policy
Whether your marketing department creates all social media posts or employees are allowed to post under the company name, having a social media policy can keep everyone on the same page. Here are a few guidelines to include in your policy:
- Choose how frequently posts will be made for each social media platform. This section should also cover the least amount of posts accepted. For example, you may want to post a minimum of one time and a maximum of three times per day to Facebook.
- Ban any sensitive data from being shared publicly. That includes everything from a customer’s full name to the business’ financial information.
- While everyone is getting used to what’s okay (and not okay) to post, pre-approve content before it goes live. By adding posts into a service like Buffer, marketing managers can give everything a once-over before it goes out to the masses.
- Let all staff members know that you may edit or remove any post that isn’t in line with branding and appropriateness.
When it comes to letting other employees post for the company, put them through a training period. They can see how the brand handles social media to get a feel for the content and voice. You can also give them examples of posts that would not be acceptable so they know what to stay away from.
Showcase Business Leaders
Company leaders should show their faces and be both accountable and available. The more transparent a company is, the better because today’s customers need to trust the businesses they give their money to. If a business leader stays hidden, customers can’t help but wonder what they’re so secretive about. Just about every platform has a way for a company’s leader to put themselves out there.
The outlet and type of posting will depend on the brand’s culture, but there are options for every type of business, whether traditional or modern. The head of the company can post status updates or articles to LinkedIn that talk about the state of the company or make announcements. Executives or business owners can create live video for Facebook or create a behind-the-scenes Instagram Story. Email marketing is ideal for conveying more thorough ideas in a way that a lot of subscribers are bound to see.
Respond to Customer Feedback
Social media has offered new, varied, and faster ways to communicate with customers, but that’s also opened the door to more criticism and negativity, which can be tricky for a company to handle. The key is to acknowledge all types of customer feedback, positive and negative. If a customer writes about a great experience they had, reply with a genuine “thank you” and maybe a link to your brand ambassador program. If your company was a victim to something less than ideal, such as a data breach or some other unacceptable public behavior, you’ll have to comfort customers who are concerned about their personal information. Don’t shy away from any type of feedback – your response is what will impact your brand reputation the most.
If there’s a high influx of customer feedback to monitor and respond to, it may help to clarify to your audience where feedback is welcomed. For example, a business page on Facebook with Messenger access is a great place for audiences to ask questions or raise concerns. However, an employee’s or manager’s LinkedIn profile, which probably has a smaller and more targeted contact list, isn’t the best place to leave feedback. If it’s a B2B company, though, you could create a LinkedIn business page and welcome interaction from the community.
Find Out What’s Being Said
Social media can provide a ton of insight into how customers perceive your brand. There are plenty of times when customers won’t post feedback that’s easy for you to find. For example, they may not use your entire company name when posting online or they may talk with a small group of people instead of posting publicly on Twitter. Seek out those places where conversations are happening and be a silent observer. Facebook Groups and Reddit threads are great places to start. You can also check out blog comments on your biggest competitors’ websites – it’s possible that readers will compare their products or services to your company.
In today’s world, your brand is constantly and highly visible. Anyone can see what you’re doing online, including your current and future customers as well as investors and competitors. Social media can boost or ruin your brand reputation, but so much of it is in your control. A large part of reputation management is getting out in front of it, and social media gives you the platform to do just that.