Recently I visited a prospect – a medium-sized international company – to discuss their marketing efforts. After talking about their traditional channels, I asked whether they had considered social media. The response I got was, “No we don’t want to do Twitter or Facebook or anything like that, because someone might say something nasty about us on it.” This attitude is not uncommon, particularly amongst more traditional businesses. However, the problem with this is that on social media, anyone can say anything, any time, through a variety of popular channels. So if someone wants to say something derogatory about your business, they may be doing it already; it’s just that you won’t be aware of it! For all you know, someone could be peddling untruths about your business, or products, or services. So, even if you don’t feel a major proactive social media programme is right for your business (yet), what can you do to ensure you are taking steps to protect your reputation online?
- Social media is, well, social. The clue is in the name! Anyone can say just about anything. That includes making comments about your company, products and services, which may be accurate or inaccurate. The trouble is – if you’re not there, you won’t know. Comments could be made by a whole range of individuals and scattered around any number of social media channels. You should be monitoring social media for mentions of your company and products, as well as your competitors and areas of activity. Monitoring can range from setting up free Google Alerts at the basic end of the scale through to paid-for services, which provide comprehensive charts and tables of your online reputation.
- If you do have a social media presence, this can provide a “lightning rod” for any negative comments, making them easy to spot and providing you with a quick and easy opportunity to take action.
- If your monitoring reveals negative comments, respond to them in a timely fashion. Most negative comments can be turned into a positive communication opportunity if you handle them promptly and well.
- Depending on the nature of the issue, you can ask your detractor to contact you offline. Get them to send you their phone number or email address so you can have an honest and open discussion about their issue with them in private.
- Remember that, unless you’re engaging in private messaging, anyone can read the conversation between you and your detractor. You can turn this into an opportunity by demonstrating outstanding customer service. Not only will this impress your detractor, but it will also impress those people watching with interest from the sidelines, providing you with a great chance to demonstrate honesty and integrity, thereby gaining new customers.