They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, when a small business just enters the social media arena, some things – such as your company’s online reputation – are much better taken care of upfront.
However, when one is busy mapping out their first-ever social media strategy, there are just so many things to keep in mind that many people forget to include brand reputation management into their agenda. At the same time, it is simply vital to do so if you want to avoid these common reputation management mistakes that may cost you dearly later on:
1. Lacking an own social media voice.
When taking their first steps in social media, many business owners are unable to do it in any other way than simply copying a competitor’s social media strategy. Well, this is understandable, since we all learn from other people’s experiences.
However, if you don’t want to disappoint your first followers, (who are likely to be your most loyal customers) you can’t afford to be just like that other guy on Twitter. Your followers need to see your brand’s distinct features behind its social profiles. If you’re the Joe who talks to the customers when they come to your pub, let them hear that Joe talking to them on Facebook, Pinterest and other social sites you are present at!
2. Not having a solid listening strategy.
The nature of social media is such that people not only follow you at various networks, but also “talk”"about your brand and products on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and other resources. Needless to say, it is critical to your brand’s reputation to somehow react to that talk – either by expressing appreciation or by handling criticism whenever necessary.
However, if conversations happening at your Facebook page or blog are easy to monitor, the same can hardly be said about brand-related conversations occurring at other people’s social pages – or at social networks you haven’t heard of. So, to always stay on top of what people are saying about your brand, you can use various social media tools, from Google Alerts to more professional apps, in order to “listen” to that talk and respond in a timely manner.
3. Mismanaging critical situations.
Many social media newbies don’t really know how to deal with critical situation. For example, here is a reputation-management-gone-wrong story about a restaurant that started a verbal fight with a customer on Twitter, which went from bad to worse, to nowhere.
Just a few things to remember when responding to negative feedback:
• Don’t ignore negative feedback. Ever.
• Acknowledging your fault, then fixing the problem works best in most cases.
• Positive attitude and humor do miracles (just make sure your humor isn’t sarcasm).
4. Being inconsistent about your social media efforts.
If you own a brick-and-mortar store, your customers probably expect it to be open at least Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. or so. Likewise, your social followers have certain expectations from you, such as that you will post with certain periodicity, etc.
For instance, did you hear that the Pope has a Twitter account now? However, in my view, it’s managed pretty inconsistently: 7 tweets were published on December 12th, followed by complete silence for a number of days. I understand that it’s the Pope and it’s Christmas time, but this is just an example of how not to manage a social account, since neither you, nor me would have the excuse of Benedict XVI.
5. Not knowing the ins & outs of the platforms you use.
Whichever new social networks you add to your SMM arsenal, make sure you really know how to use them. Why? For instance, if you never check your @Connect section on Twitter, you could miss tons of opportunities to connect with the people who have mentioned your Twitter handle
Or, if you send too many invitations to the people you’re interested in on LinkedIn and most of them decline your invites just because they don’t know you, the social network might limit your means of contacting other member to email only. So, such nuances are good to know to avoid missing out on valuable B2B or B2C opportunities.
6. Posting the same stuff to multiple networks.
Posting the same message across all your social media platforms is considered an unacceptable practice. If you do that, it will show that you are lazy, uncreative or even spammy. Each social media platform has its specifics, its flavor and its own kind of followers.
Hence, even if you really need to make a big announcement, make sure to tailor it to each network separately. And, if you share third-party content, it’s better to share different stuff on different networks.
7. Making it all about you.
There are self-absorbed, narcissistic brands that only tweet, post and talk about themselves: promoting themselves, posting their special offers, sharing their updates, posting corporate pictures, etc.
But this is not the way to go about it in SMM, as your audiences will soon get tired of homogeneous posts.
The bottom line…
Online reputation is part of your brand’s public image, which, once spoilt, is hard to whitewash. It is surprising how many online promoters pay more attention to how popular their company than by what means it becomes popular. So, to spare yourself the need to fix damaged reputation later on, it’s best to keep it in mind when you just start out with your first social media marketing campaign.