In this day and age, social media users eagerly interact with brands. They also share their experiences and opinions on a regular basis, putting social media reputation in a state of constant flux. The trickiest thing is that this reputation takes years of meticulous work to build and a split second of carelessness or oversight to tarnish.
To prevent the latter disaster scenario, you need to learn to listen. When it comes to things like negative feedback, they are borderline unavoidable, yet more than manageable. So, recognize that social media communication is always a two-way street, a mutually-beneficial relationship for customers and brands.
Reputation management itself involves the process of tracking, monitoring, and mitigating the impact of negative social media feedback and material. It goes well above and beyond keeping close tabs on messages coming your way. Therefore, it requires a far-sighted, strategic, and planned effort.
A Game Plan
Modern consumers are devout social media users. They do online research, read reviews, and consume branded content before making their final purchase decision. It is estimated that 88% of them trust online reviews as much as they do peer recommendations. So, it is clear that both positive and negative reactions can make or break your reputation. In fact, building trust and brand loyalty in social media is linked to a better marketing ROI and bottom line.
To make a positive change take place, embrace a proactive approach. Your social media reputation management strategy is the first step toward getting on top of social media conversations surrounding your brand. In this stage, it is essential to set realistic and tangible goals for. For example, you can aspire to drive positive engagement, increase the number of positive reviews, improve traffic to your website, etc. It is not uncommon for companies to establish a whole set of goals.
Next, identify what they will track. This depends on the strategic direction and the social media network in question. Then again, most often, these indicators include a company name (and its common misspellings), company’s products and services, high-profile employees and executives, industry keywords, and biggest competitors (part of a competitor analysis). Some of these are rather straightforward, while things like identifying most valuable keywords may take more time.
Tools and Tricks of the Trade
Furthermore, you need the right social media reputation monitoring tools to pick up brand mentions, hashtags, and industry keywords in conversations. There is no shortage of excellent options here. For instance, Sprout Social pulls messages across different social platforms and integrates them into a single-stream inbox. It also comes with advanced features such as message tagging, which facilities cross-team collaboration.
It is always preferable to have one tool with a central dashboard, a solution that streamlines the workflow. Moreover, it should allow you to generate analysis and produce actionable reports. Finally, you may want to cast an even wider net: factor in word-of-mouth marketing and social media referrals. They influence your sales, customer acquisition costs, and volume of traffic to the rest of your digital presence, most notably your website and/or blog.
If you struggle to implement tools and lay out the systems for maintaining reputation, seek digital marketing professionals that specialize in your industry. They possess a certain skillet and tried and tested processes for delivering top-notch results in areas of social media marketing, consumer data, and analytics. The investment could really pay dividends, giving you deeper insights into what people are saying and maximizing your ROI.
From Theory to Practice
Once that is sorted out, you can start taking concrete steps and get in touch with your audience.
First off, find the appropriate tone of voice that will imbue your communication with much-needed consistency. This aspect is linked to your brand persona, culture, values, and identity. More often than not, it is a good idea to strike a fine balance between conversational and professional tone.
Secondly, get ready to respond to questions and comments in a timely manner. Most customers expect response times to be under four hours, even though most brands take 10 hours on average. That is just too much and stepping up your game here could give you a nice edge over the competition. Of course, responding to people who are upset and discontent is the most daunting thing to do.
But, it must be done in order to prevent bad news from spreading around like wildfire. Therefore, never look down on people and refrain from deleting negative comments. Be careful when using automated messages because you need to uncover your human side. Coming across as cold and calculated is not something you can afford.
Beyond everything else, demonstrate your readiness and ability to tackle issues and acknowledge pain points. Always focus on the potential resolution, whether it is a discount to an unhappy customer or an apology for a bad service. Keep your cool: ease anger with kindness and attentiveness. Give people a suitable space for their opinions to be heard. Deliver on your promises.
You can explore one more reputation avenue– influencer marketing.
Connecting with trusted and prominent figures in the industry gives you more visibility and positively impacts brand perception via endorsements. They expand your reach and open up some cross-promotion and syndication opportunities. Brands usually chose between micro- (up to 10,000 followers) and macro-influencers (10,000+ followers). The choice comes down to whether you want more reach or higher engagement and how much you are willing to pay for it.
Regardless of these specifics, what you must prioritize finding the right influencers. They can relate to your mission and have a target audience of people that are likely to be interested in what you have to say and offer. In other words, keep it genuine and organic. Before asking them for anything, start following them and engaging with their content. Note that in terms of influencer marketing and outreach strategies, they come in many different forms.
As it often is in marketing, it takes some trial and error to get things right.
The world of social media never sleeps and it calls for constant vigilance on the part of marketers’. Like it or not, consumers have a voice and the goal is not to shut it down. You are more of a good warden and steward than an executioner.
Therefore, come up with a solid strategy and maintain an active presence. Keep your fingers on the pulse of the audience and gain a clear overview of how you currently hold up. Gather all data in one place and be consistent when managing the negative and nurturing the positive.
Live up to your word— follow through and make necessary changes. Do not let anything fly under the radar or remain unattended. Ensure that your brand is presented in the best possible light. Following these steps, you should be able to steer clear of major roadblocks and reputation train wrecks down the road.
If you're interested in discussing your current social strategy and how you can further align that with your brand and voice, we invite you to schedule an inbound marketing consultation with our team. You can also check out our social media marketing explainer video if you have any questions specifically on social media.
Guest Blog Contributor: Meaghan Yorke is a content writer for DesignRush. These days she is all about researching various social media related topics. When she is not working she enjoys dancing classical ballet.