Social media has lots of benefits for businesses, but some choose to abstain from it for fear of damaging their own reputation. After all, social media has become the perfect outlet for unhappy customers to vent their frustrations – so why expose yourself to that kind of criticism online? The secret is to ensure that you effectively manage your reputation on social media, taking advantage of being able to engage with your target audience to paint a positive picture of your business online. Here’s how to do it.
Keeping track of who’s saying what
Managing your reputation on social media starts by being constantly aware of what people are saying about you on social networks – even the ones you might not be on yet. Luckily, this is less hard work than it sounds, because there’s lots of software out there to help you.
Social Mention is a popular one, as it lets you listen in on over a hundred social networks. As well as showing you what’s being said about you online, it also gives you percentage scores that tell you, for example, how positively your brand is viewed on social media. HowSociable also has a scoring system, this time allowing you to compare your scores on different networks so that you can find out where your brand performs best. Hootsuite offers similar analytics, but we’ll come back to that later in this post.
Setting up Google Alerts for your brand name is another way of monitoring what’s being said about you online. At a frequency of your choosing, it emails you whenever your keyword (in this case your brand name) is mentioned online, and it can help alert you to new web mentions beyond the realms of social media. Sites like Addictomatic.com will also help you keep an eye on a wider range of sites, including Flickr, WordPress and YouTube.
Responding to comments and messages
Social media is called “social” media for a reason: it’s all about interaction. The brands that don’t do so well on social media are those who treat it as a one-way advertising outlet – those who use it to sell their products or services but never respond to questions or comments from the people who follow them online.
Social media is increasingly viewed as a handy way to get in touch with a business, so customers and potential customers expect a response. You’ll gain a reputation for being friendly, approachable and helpful if you ensure you reply to everyone who messages you, whether in a public comment or privately if they’ve sent you a direct message. It’s good to respond even if they haven’t asked a question; it makes people feel valued, and makes your brand feel more human.
Handling your reviews
Giving people the ability to review your products or services may seem a scary step to take, but as we’ve seen in a previous post, reviews help your business perform better online. Not only that, but with so many of us now checking out online reviews before buying, it stands to reason that if you’ve got loads of great reviews, you’re going to be more successful online.
Enabling reviews on social media (on your Facebook page, for example) accentuates the need for careful reputation management. A good start is to share some of the great reviews you receive so that more people see them; this should paint the right picture of your business as having lots of happy customers. You can also publicly respond to each reviewer thanking them for their kind comments, as this shows that you’re grateful for the review and makes the customer feel appreciated.
Of course, you’ll never be able to please everyone, and the occasional negative remark is par for the course. The reassuring thing is that few prospective customers will expect 100% positive reviews. The presence of one or two bad ones might even make readers trust the good ones more, as it keeps the opinions balanced.
So, don’t just ignore or delete the bad reviews. Instead, take the time to respond carefully, and resist the temptation to be defensive or aggressive. Keep calm, thanking them for the feedback and providing an explanation for any perceived shortfallings. If their issue is your fault, it’s best to own up to it, apologise and show that you’re willing to help resolve the issue.
Managing multiple social networks
It can be difficult to stay on top of your social media accounts, particularly when you’re on several platforms. There are tools available to help, and Hootsuite is one of the most widely used. Hootsuite allows you to manage multiple social networks in one place, letting you monitor your social media mentions and respond to them directly from within your dashboard.
Among other things, Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts and authorise several people to manage your social media accounts – perfect for businesses in which more than one person will need to be able to post on social media. It also has a fantastic set of real-time analytics that show you metrics such as sentiment, engagement and follower numbers, giving you an up-to-date picture of your social media performance and reputation.
If all this sounds hard work, the good news is that it gets easier when you get the hang of it – and the benefits of being on social media make it more than worth the effort. If you need more help, you can get lots more tips for social media success here.