The Five Modes of Social Media, part 5: Reputation Management

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Social media is awesome and can do so much for your business, but with so many modes of use that it can provide, how do you prioritize and where do you start? Great questions – let’s start out with listing all five modes:

  1. Branding/PR
  2. Sales channel
  3. Promotions
  4. Customer interaction
  5. Reputation management

This is the fifth of a five-part series where I’m going to cover all five in detail. Today we’ll dive into the uses of social media for your reputation management campaigns.

Do you remember the old marketing adage that an angry customer will tell ten friends about their bad experience? Forget it. How many Twitter followers do you have? Twenty? 50? A thousand? When a disappointed customer tells their stream of Twitter followers or posts their experience on their Facebook status, it’s going to reach a lot more than ten people. Considering that people will tend to complain to whatever channel is available to them at the moment they feel like complaining, and people are spending increasing amounts of time on social media, it is definitely a channel you should pay attention to.

When your company is being discussed or mentioned publicly, you have the unique opportunity to participate in the discussion. This is an opportunity that you would never have in face-to-face interactions, so use it to your advantage.

Silence Fuels the Fire

Something funny happens when people complain online. We want to be acknowledged – recognized that we’re a valued customer. When we have a bad experience, we want someone to apologize or make it right, just like if we asked to speak to a manager face to face. The Internet is a vast place with millions of different forums to make yourself heard. It is very difficult for a company to monitor all these forums, so if a customer complains and doesn’t get a response, they will likely choose another forum to voice their opinion or experience in, in search of acknowledgement. After a while, the same bad review will be placed all over the Internet – a nightmare for the company, and leaves an irate customer still not feeling vindicated.

But, when you respond to the customer, with honesty and transparency, something amazing happens… The complaints just stop. There are probably several reasons for it. Maybe the person is fine knowing that someone from the company is aware they have wronged someone. Maybe the customer feels challenged and backs off in fear of a confrontation. Whatever the reason is, it makes so much sense to address the concern and put a stop to it.

How to Monitor the Conversation

There are a wide variety of keyword monitoring tools for Twitter that will monitor and notify you when it is used.  They can often geotarget, so your small, local business can find when people mention your company online. Do a search for ‘Twitter keyword monitoring tools’ to find all the free and paid tools out there.

An indispensable tool is Google Alerts. Alerts will send you an email or feed to your RSS reader any time that Google spiders come across a new mention of whatever keywords you give it. Try it out on your business name and watch for when you are mentioned in blog posts or in forums. Once you’ve fed your ego sufficiently, try tracking your competitor. Who knows what you can find.

Foursquare allows users to leave tips about your local brick and mortar business. Watch the tips and manage them. Consider incentivizing leaving positive tips to help encourage potential customers seeking reviews.

While managing your reputation on social media, don’t be afraid to jump in the conversation, whether a positive or a negative one. You’ve worked hard to build your brand, so protect it. Customers appreciate openness, honesty, and transparency, so be real. Your response will be around for years to come, so put on your best face.