Online reputation – do you know yours?

With two in three Australians using social media regularly, there’s a good chance your business (and therefore your online reputation) is being talked about somewhere in cyberspace. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not.

Users take to the many platforms available, especially Facebook and Twitter, when they’ve had a wonderful experience. Conversely, when someone has had a bad experience with you, it’s safe to assume that it will end up  on the internet somewhere, most likely on your own Facebook page or Twitter.

Criticism itself may not damage your brand. However, the way your business handles it will impact on your brand perception. This article from Croud shows how bad social media can get, if not done right.

So how do you manage you brand reputation in social spaces online? Here are my tips:

Get all the facts:

Your first reaction to a complaint could be to take it personally and to delete the comment. Avoid doing this. Instead offer to speak to them over the phone to establish the basis for their complaint. With all the facts you can address the problem and if appropriate offer compensation.

stay calmStay calm:

People’s first reaction to a negative comment is to get defensive. Even more so if they feel the comment isn’t warranted but a defensive reaction often makes something minor major.

Keep calm, put your personal feelings aside, and manage the complaint objectively.

Keep on top of your social media:

Social media plays out in real time – a major strength for communicating with your customers. On the downside what could have started out as a small concern can blow up into a major one if it is not addressed quickly.

Who remembers the unfortunate Aldi campaign where followers were encouraged to ‘fill in the blank‘? Let’s just say it lead to a torrent of tweets that did not add any value to the company, and may have even done damage to the brand. But it was the fact that it took Aldi what seemed like an eternity, to attempt to shut the campaign down.

Then there’s this little gem from PayPal’s Director of Global Strategy, who learned the lesson – that no matter how hard you try, you can’t delete your tweets.

Monitor your social media regularly and always be proactive. If you don’t have the capacity to do it yourself – train designated employees to respond on your behalf. And always respond promptly.

Fix and follow up:

Mistakes happen. If your business was at fault, fix it. If nothing else it has given you the opportunity to improve your business.

With the issue resolved go back to the person who made the complaint to check that it has been resolved. By doing this you are demonstrating you listen and treat complaints seriously. Other followers will see how you have handled the complaint and will see firsthand how well you handle negative experiences.

Plan for the bad stuff:

Incorporate Negativity Management into your Social Media Strategy. Even the best business will have experienced an unhappy customer no matter how hard they work on delivery. By having a plan aimed at managing complaints, you won’t be left scrambling when the inevitable happens.

Share your Social Media Plan with your employees:

Share the plan and offer training to manage angry customers in a diplomatic way. This will make your social media strategy stronger and will improve your overall customer service experience.

GoDaddy provides a good example of having a crisis communication strategy in place. In 2012, their service went down effecting thousands of customers. As the dominate player in low cost hosting this was a major catastrophe.

They quickly responded via social media letting their customers know what happened and how it was being addressed this was followed with regular updates. The result was surprising, customers praised GoDaddy for their quick response and customer service.

This highlights the importance of having a sound negative management strategy in place. It means you can respond quickly and appropriately protecting the reputation of your business.

Above all else remember negative comments and your approach to them will play out in a very public forum where you can be easily judged. If people perceive you to have handled a situation badly it will be amplified as they retweet or comment on your post. Remember be genuine, don’t patronise or be sarcastic and show you are willing to listen and learn from your customers.

By adopting these techniques you address criticism and educate people on your brand. You can take control of the conversation and steer the negative experience into a positive one. The critic will focus less on the negative and more on the positive turning them into your strongest brand champion.

Over to you

What experiences have you had with social media and how could you have managed them more effectively?

If you want help getting more out of your social media marketing, please download our free step by step guide today!