PR is all about managing reputation. Whether that’s to help drive sales, recruit the best and brightest talent or to attract investors – reputation management is essential. Customers and employees (past, present and future) who feel they can trust what a brand or organisation stands for will in turn be the most influential advocates for that same brand. Today, this can be quite a challenge. The web and digital communication channels mean everyone has the opportunity to make their personal opinion heard – loudly, far and wide.
A disgruntled employee or customer can vent their frustration in 140 characters or more, they can even post video content to show the issue in action.
Social media offers powerful communications channels to anyone with access to a smartphone or computer (so, most of the Western world!). From a consumer perspective, it is a great way to exert influence over a brand. Let’s face it if someone with a big social media following posts a negative comment about a new product, the owners of that product can be fairly sure products will not be flying off the shelves – well, at least not for the right reasons…
Currently 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, compared to only 14% that trust adverts. On Twitter alone, 53% of people recommend products in their Tweets.
Social media is shifting the balance of knowledge and influence from organisations to consumers – whether they are looking for a new job, product, service or investment. This is why 90% of marketers are spending their time getting to truly understand how digital channels can work for their brands. Using consumer data insights from social media use and applying this knowledge effectively will create a future in which products and services will find the consumer rather than the other way round.
So how can you make your mark online for the right reasons? Here are our top five tips:
- Commit - Only set up a social media presence if you can resource it properly. Proactive posts and timely responses to comments or questions are essential to be taken seriously and received positively.
- Listen – Don’t jump in straight away into conversations. Not everyone wants to hear directly from a brand, especially if it is openly pushing a product or service. Spend some time listening to what is being said and by whom. If you respond make sure it adds value to the conversation – links to relevant information on your own website are a great way of gaining traffic and a positive reputation.
- Be true – It is important for any online conversations to reflect any other conversation your brand would have with your audiences. For example how your receptionist would greet a visitor or a salesperson would begin an initial meeting. Being true to your brand in terms of action and tone of voice is essential.
- Confess – If you make a mistake be honest about it. If you’ve stepped onto the social media stage, you have an audience of powerful decision makers watching your every move. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate how you respect your stakeholders – it will win you points in the long run.
- Focus – There are a multitude of social media channels to choose from. Unless you have unlimited resources, it is worth just picking one of two to invest in fully. Social media demands a two way interaction. It is important you can ensure any conversations that are started can be concluded to benefit everyone involved.
Above all, it is essential that everyone that has access to the company’s or their own social media accounts understand the company’s approach and the part they play in maintaining your company or brand’s reputation. Establishing clear, concise and accessible social media guidelines can help to ensure that you maintain the best possible brand reputation online.