Putting your brand on social media is the start of building a solid online presence for your business.  Once you’re up and running, the real challenge is maintaining a social platform that is a valuable asset to your business.

There is always something to say, content to publish but truly effective social media management isn’t just about talking, it’s also about listening and responding.  This approach can be time-consuming, high maintenance even, but it’s absolutely worth your while!

The best think you can do is to plan ahead.  There should be two sides to your plan: an online crisis policy and a content plan.  That way you are covering both bases.  The content plan is part of controlling the way you are seen online proactively and the customer service plan will set out how to deal with any comments and complaints that might come your way.  That way everything is under control and any scary situations can be dealt with calmly and quickly or avoided altogether.

What are your customers saying about you?

Social media essentially opens up another line of communication between your business and the public.

Around 35% of consumers take to social media to talk to a brand but typically 30% of these comments, compliments or complaints are ignored.  Although it can be tempting to ignore the negative ones, whilst telephone calls are private, social media conversations are often visible, not just by your fans but by their network too.  If just one comment is engaged with (by the customer or any of your fans) its visibility increases to their entire network and friends of friends, and so on…

Although this seems like a terrifying prospect it’s actually the whole point of ‘social’ media.

No one expects a service to be perfect but responding to queries in a timely, polite manner will not only appease the customer in question but actually 51% of customers report that a brand’s response to a query gave them a more favourable view of the brand.

 

Tips:

– Remember that you are not just talking to one customer but possibly all of them

– Think about your brand and how you want to be perceived: coming across as a friendly, helpful business that wants to help your customers can only be a good thing

– If possible, take the conversation offline or into a private messaging function, especially if it seems like it might be complex or difficult to resolve

– Monitor hashtags and search your brand name of social media regularly to keep track of what’s being said

 

Online brand protection

 

Think about your staff

Whilst your social media staff are carefully crafting beautiful updates and perhaps even responding to queries excellently, customer’s opinions aren’t the only ones you should be thinking about.

Whether part of a large or small business, what your staff are saying about you online in the public domain is crucial to building a good reputation.

Many people will have the odd thing to say about their day at work but if they are connected to your brand in some way, it doesn’t take long to connect the dots even if they don’t mention your business by name.

If your staff are being negative about your company, or revealing private corporate information, it could affect how your customers, potential staff and stakeholders see you or even give your competitors an unwelcome insight into your business.

No-one wants to infringe on staff privacy but there are a few steps you can take to ensure your good work isn’t being undone.

 

Tips

– Create a staff social media policy (as part of your crisis policy) outlining what should and shouldn’t be said in connection with the brand and highlight privacy tools (e.g. protected tweets, friend-only updates) so that staff can maintain their online identity without impacting on the business

– Suggest key staff create a separate professional social media account

– Give staff an outlet to discuss work-based issues or complaints either on or offline, for example a private LinkedIn group or an office-based suggestion box

 

Google yourself!

Last but not least, although following all the guidelines above will help you, it’s important to continue to regularly check what else is being said about your business and brand outside of social media.

If anyone Googles your business anything associated with it has a chance of popping up: those negative tweets you ignored, the complaints from a staff member – here’s where it comes full circle.

The more equipped you are to deal with comments from customers or staff the better your brand will come out on the king of search.  And it can also be fantastic: all the positive tweets, the excellent way you responded to a complaint, reviews and feedback all stand just as much chance of surfacing.

 

Tips:

– Take control of what might appear on Google and put search keywords into your tweets

– Use listening tools, for example, Google Alerts or Social Mention to see what’s being said about your brand across the web

– Remember that a tweet no longer lives and dies on Twitter and can be seen by anyone with access to Google (everyone!)