Social media has empowered consumers to dissect brands at warp speed. Taco Bell faced the wrath of unhappy consumers due to a Facebook post mistake, while the McDonalds McStories campaign ended in disaster.
As most of the social media space is uncontrolled and everything is happening in real time, small business owners should be careful when utilizing the platform for branding and outreach.
Tips for small business owners to prevent social media backlash:
1. Manage your visual reputation
Consumers connect more quickly to visual images than they do text content. You should keep an eye on the images of your product and services floating around the web. Your competitors can easily create images that defame your brand and if they surface on social media, it can be impossible for you to stop the damage due to the platform’s viral nature.
The Apple and Samsung image battle is a prime example of image defamation. Samsung took away a lot of iPhone consumers when Maps failed in Australia. Initially the photo in favor of Galaxy S3 surfaced on the streets, but it took no time in reaching social networking, damaging Apple’s reputation.
You also have the option of an ORM company. However, make sure that you choose an appropriate one because Brand.com reviews show most ORM companies are lacking in some key areas. Companies to avoid are the ones that think online reputation management is all about controlling the first page of search engine results or ensuring privacy protection on Facebook, while paying little or no attention to suppressing unwanted images.
2. Stay on top of what consumers are saying
Social media blacklash and delayed response are closely tied. Negative comments on social media networks about brands and businesses can spread at a rapid pace, especially if it’s by someone who’s an influencer or has a large number of followers.
Even a small evening lag in responding to an unhappy customer can prove to be catastrophic. Therefore, it’s important that you stay on stop of what consumers are saying by defining a clear response time strategy with your social media team. A report from Oracle reveals that consumers expect response time is within 2 hours, so that can serve as an ideal benchmark window.
Even if something goes wrong, you can be prepared for a strategic reply. Whoever deals with your social media pages (including you) should try to make the response conversational. For example, instead of saying, ‘we’re sorry for the bad meal today, the issue will be escalation to our operations’, say ‘your issue is being looked into right now and you’ll be compensated within 2 hours’.
3. Make your contact information easily available
A trend that has been seen in recent times is that consumers resort to social media if they can’t reach a company directly with their complaints and questions. You can prevent a lot of negative social media press by making your business contact information easily available.
Allow comments, highlight your email and customer service number and even encourage live chat on your company website. Doing so can ensure that negative issues stay between you and the consumer, and doesn’t reach the masses on social media.
Though you may not be able to control social media negativity every time, the tips will help you to ensure things don’t get out of hand.
What steps do you follow to avoid social media backlash? Feel free to leave comments.