The digital landscape has provided everyone with a platform where they can share what they want to share, and also that that don’t warrant sharing.
The bad side is that businesses will have a harder time with their customers because they will bypass customer service then go online and share their views. While there are platforms such as Facebook that gives you the chance of brushing the criticism under the carpet (this is not a good idea because angry customers are most likely going to respond), reviews on websites like Google and Trip Advisor can easily end up blemishing your name for a long time. This is also true of your personal reputation, according to these professional resume writers, with many employers now taking to social media to check up on their prospective employees.
While there are some customers who are looking to portray your business in the wrong light online, there are ways of monitoring and responding to criticism in a proactive and timely approach.
Below are 6 things can help in protecting your brand and enhancing the reputation of your business on social media;
- Managing the social usage of your team
Staff members are usually full advocates of the brand in the digital industry. This can sometimes involve having work credentials on a personal Twitter account on the bios section. Some businesses encourage their staff to have a different account that has been standardized by the company and has the company’s handles and headshots.
But when it comes to the inline marketplace, visibility is very important, and this is why there are some businesses in given sectors that use a different approach when it comes to what their staff can and can’t share.
Whether you are interested in the staff representing your business on social media or not, it is important to have a social media policy. This will be important in protecting the team members and your business.
Some important issues to put into consideration includes;
The things your staff can share. Can they say they work at your company (apart from LinkedIn) Can the team use social media during the working house? It is a good idea to have this in writing.
What do you consider intellectual property? There are times when the staff might be sharing their working and nor realizing that they have breached their contract.
Making sure the brand voice has been communicated properly. If you are going to let your staff represent the company online, then they should know how to portray your brand.
When someone has left your company, make sure you have changed the log-in details or revoke any privileges, but you should have measures in place that will ensure a member of staff is not going to portray the company in bad light once they leave.
If the team tends to work outside the business premises, they should know more about unsecured WiFi connections. When they access sensitive data using such connections, they put the data at risk.
It is important for a business to properly manage their staff when it comes to the use of social media and policy to follow. A good book to help with this is How to handle social media as a small business employer by ByteStart.
There is also a free guide by Acas that delves deeper into online bullying and also legal considerations when it comes to matters of social media.
- Tracking when the brand is mentioned online
Some tools help in monitoring online mentions, although businesses that have limited marketing budgets are not able to afford some of these tools.
Tweetdeck is a good tool to use in monitoring keywords associated with your business, location, suppliers, and staff. When you set up dedicated streams, you can easily flag up social references or anything that can end up helping or harming your brand. And the best part is that its free.
While Tweetdeck will give you the chance of monitoring only Twitter, it allows you to capitalize on the positive coverage, (when there is some positive news in the industry), keeping up to date with things your staff post and also monitoring your competition at the same time.
Sprout Social is a great tool to use in monitoring social mentions across platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. You have to pay for this tool, but it is a small monthly fee.
If you don’t have Google Alerts set up for your business and brand name, consider doing it because it will help you in monitoring new coverage of your brand. While this is not going to be comprehensive enough to pick every mention or review, it is a free way to get an email on your brand coverage.
- Responding to negative reviews
When dealing with negative coverage of the business, the saying ‘you catch more flies with honey’ rings true. But you need to remember that some customer complaints have made their way to national news – if you choose to use social media when criticizing, then you will have no other option apart from sharing the resulting correspondence.
You should thank the people leaving positive reviews then sincerely respond to the negative reviews. You can offer an apology, explanation, and address the issues then ask them to directly contact you through a dedicated email address.
This shows that you are ready to go to extra lengths to make sure the customer has been helped while ensuring things remain private. You can have a ‘Customer Experience’ or ‘Let Us Help’ email where you will be dealing with complaints from customers.
- Highlighting and using positive feedback
Collective customer reviews are powerful, but you can also showcase your positive feedback.
You should set a testimonials page on the website where you will be sharing positive reviews on your social channels.
If your customers are complimenting through phone calls, emails, or in person, then ask them whether they can do the same online. You can send them to leave their reviews on industry-specific sites (RAR and Houzz are some good examples) and also promoting them to share their feedback through their social media channels.
When you send out a press release or publish content, ensure you have portrayed the business in a way you want it to be. At the end of the content, add images in different sizes with the news releases and also company biography. What this does is to save the editors time, stop the use of old logos, and also giving you some control over the branding.
If you host the content on your site, you should always pay attention to the feature images and Meta description. You can use a plug like Yoast to customize how you want the content to be displayed when it is shared through the different social media channels.
- Offering great customer service
Have you given the staff enough authority to make customers happy? If you have ever paid a lot of money for a bad hotel room then forced to complain in the middle of the night, then you know the frustration when a member of the staff at the desk has no control over complimentary extras or upgrades.
Some brands make a mistake of failing to have customer service channels when the customers are going to need them the most (for example weekends and evenings).
Additionally, many don’t create user guides and content to help users get the most from their products – this is where the likes of YouTube videos, podcasts as a form of content and great blogs can help.
If you are operating an e-commerce site dealing with higher value items, you need to have a help option that is outside the Monday-Friday hours. When customers are shown with error messages, they only place they will think to go is online because they know that is how their problem is going to be addressed.
Getting negative reviews can be crushing, but you need to keep in mind that some of the highly-rated businesses tend to have negative reviews. When you respond fast and professionally, it will help you protect the reputation of your business even if unsightly reviews have been left.