Despite having many benefits, some business owners choose not to be active on social media for fear of damaging their reputation. After all, it’s not uncommon for unhappy customers to vent their frustrations on social media – so why expose yourself to that kind of online criticism? The secret is to make sure that you manage your reputation and take advantage of engaging with your customers and target audience to paint the best possible picture of your business. To help here are our top tips of how to do just that:
Be aware of what people are saying
A good place to start managing your reputation on social media is by keeping track of who is saying what, even on platforms your business might not be on yet. Don’t worry, this isn’t as hard as it sounds as there’s plenty of software to help you.
A popular one is Social Mention, which lets you keep track across over a hundred social networks. Not only does it show you what’s being said about your business online but it also gives your percentage scores, for example on how positively your brand is being viewed on social media. Similarly, HowSociable, has a scoring system and allows you to compare your scores across different social media networks so you can see where your brand is performing best.
Another way of monitoring what’s being said about your business online is setting up Google Alerts for your brand name. This means you’ll get an email, at a frequency of your choice, whenever your brand name (keyword) is mentioned online, and this could even alert you to mentions beyond social media. There are also sites that help keep track across a wider range of sites, for example Addictomatic which monitors Flickr, WordPress and YouTube.
Take time to respond to comments and messages
Social media is all about interaction and it’s not uncommon for brands who don’t do so well on social to be the ones treating the platform as a one-way advertising outlet. It’s very popular for customers to use social media as a handy way to get in touch with a business and it’s worth noting that they often expect a quick response too. If you ensure your business is responding to messages, both public and private, you’ll gain a reputation for being friendly, helpful and approachable. Even when you’re not asked a direct question make every effort to respond to make your brand more human and show you value your customers.
Be open to reviews and handle them correctly
More and more customers search for online reviews before purchasing products and services so it’s no surprise they help your business perform better online.
Although it may seem a scary step to take, enabling customers to leave reviews on your social media pages can be a great step to improving your success online. However, it also accentuates the need for careful reputation management. Why not start by sharing some of the great reviews you already have so can you paint the right picture of your business as having lots of happy customers. Show those who do review your business that you’re grateful by publicly responding to each individually thanking them.
Of course, you’ll never be able to please everyone and the occasional negative remark comes as part of the package. The reassuring thing is that very few people expect all businesses to have 100% positive reviews, and if you respond the right way you can even turn a negative review into a positive experience. So, don’t panic and delete or ignore any bad comments but instead take some time to craft a great response. Start by thanking them for their feedback and provide an explanation for any perceived shortfallings, resisting the temptation to be defensive or aggressive. Don’t be afraid to own up to an issue if it is your fault, you’d be surprised how far an apology and wiliness to resolve an issue goes with many customers.
Keep on top of multiple social accounts
Keeping active across multiple platforms can be a daunting prospect, especially if you’re a small business owner. But there are tools available to help, and Hootsuite is a popular one. The management tool helps you to keep on top of multiple social networks in one dashboard allowing you to monitor mentions and respond to comments and posts.
Among many other features, Hootsuite also allows you to schedule social media posts so you can ensure you’re posting a steady stream of useful and engaging content. Don’t be afraid to jump on any relevant news or timely company news in addition though. You can also authorise several people to help look after a business’s social media which is perfect to ensure quick responses. It also provides a fantastic set of real-time analytics and reports that can show your engagement metrics and follower numbers which gives you an up-to-date picture of your performance.
Although this sounds like a lot of effort, it will get easier as you get the hang of it – and the benefits of being on social media make it more than worth the work. Don’t be afraid to give your business a voice and personality; if you can be responsive and active on social media it can not only improve your relationship with customers and contribute to increased sales, you might even get some great feedback out of it too.