One of the biggest fears many people and companies have with social media is that they are scared that they are going to lose control of their reputation. It’s true that once you open the door on the social web making contact with the public, you do run the risk of unhappy people and trolls that want to bring down your business with negative comments and remarks. This is real and it can happen, but we are not living in the 70’s anymore. If someone wants to complain about you online, they can do it even if you don’t have a profile on the web.
The time is over where companies could control the message and the nearest outlet of interaction between them and the public was when people stopped buying their services or products. We are living in an interconnected digital world where crowd-sourced opinion can rise up against you like a snowball that keeps on gaining momentum.
One of the biggest mistakes companies are doing online is trying to protect themselves by hiding and not building up their reputation on the social web. If your company is one of these that is afraid to go on the social web, consider this — everyone is a citizen journalist and can basically say what they think about you even if you aren’t present on the social web. Why don’t you give them a place to interact with you where you are active and more likely to earn some credibility by helping them than hiding.
If you are still afraid to try out social media, find below a couple of useful online reputation management tips.
1. Help your network
Facebook and Twitter are perfect for customer service. If people are having problems or they are asking for help, give it to them. Don’t just reply to any comments and queries you receive with a web page and not engaging with them.
2. Be wary of censorship
Be professional and transparent. When you receive any issues online, deal with them. Don’t take the bait and start flaming your anger. Most of the time when anything starts angry it does calm down after a while. If you want to magnify the problem and add another layer to the snowball, delete it. Some content and feedback can be deleted if you have set rules for what is acceptable on your profiles. Your customers will understand the need for some basic editorial guidelines.
3. Convert angry customers into brand advocates
An angry and upset customer whose problem was solved is more than likely to become a brand advocate. How you are seen in the public eye dealing with issues online can either enhance or break your reputation.
4. The focus is not always just about you
Never assume that people in your network are just interested in talking about your services and products. People may be engaged with your brand regarding something else, so don’t make it just about what you are doing.
Online reputation management is a reality. Never try to manage your reputation on the social web with your thumbs down. This will make you look oppressive. The more rules and regulations you create, the bigger opportunity there is for people to insult you. Get some brand advocates on board and trust in the ability of a crowd online to police itself.
Author | Anton Koekemoer
I'm your friendly neighbourhood digital marketing specialist. I specialise in helping brands connect with targeted customers by enhancing their online presence through emerging web-based communication channels. I translate business objectives into comprehensive initiatives that focus on humanising brand identity while maximising measurable business results. More