Social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and LinkedIn give you the ability to develop a global brand, even if you operate a single retail store on Main Street. In fact, if your brand is online, you already have a global brand, whether you’ve actively promoted it that way or not. With this kind of broad reach comes additional responsibility to protect your brand reputation.
Create Brand Ambassadors
Social media is unique because it lets you put a human face on your brand and connect with consumers both within focused groups and also one-on-one. With timely posts and comments, you can turn people into brand ambassadors if you:
- Respond quickly. Consumers use social media to connect with brands. When they have a problem, they want a fast response. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a dissatisfied customer will tell between nine and 15 people about their negative experience, while a happy customer will spread their delight to between four and six people. Engage quickly and authentically and you’ll cement a positive relationship.
- Keep it public. Instead of responding privately to a delighted or disgruntled customer, post your exchanges publicly. If one person is having an issue with your product (positive or negative), others may be as well, and your responses will help them too. Others will see that you are responsive and that will elevate their opinion of your company.
- Stay consistent. Your customer support and interactions should all communicate the same message in the same voice, across all social accounts.
- Be human and authentic. Although your brand is not a person, your presence on social media can take place on a more personal and emotional level. Humanizing your brand by being authentic, passionate, and caring will encourage people to respond positively. This is powerful for brand marketers because people engage, react and respond in nuanced and emotional ways. If you’re particularly adept at this, you may even be able to make your brand cool and necessary in the minds of consumers.
Have a Disaster Mitigation Plan
The power of social media to instantly connect with thousands of people is a marketer’s dream – until it becomes a nightmare. One mistake can get amplified and become a public relations catastrophe. How you respond to these inevitable missteps determines if your brand recovers or languishes. Do it right and you may be able to turn a disaster into something positive.
As with any disaster response, the key is to have a plan and react quickly. Monitor your social accounts continually (you should be doing this for proactive marketing reasons anyway). If a customer posts a negative comment or review, respond right away in a respectful, helpful manner. If an employee posts something controversial, immediately retract it and apologize. You may have to offer some kind of reparations to regain trust. In all cases, be honest, because it’s just too easy for social media users to catch you in a lie.