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Have you ever had a bad experience at a store? Did you tell a friend or friends about that experience? What if all these experiences could be used to help businesses improve their image and the way they interact with customers?
Social media platforms such as Twitter allow users to unite and express their joys and frustrations with certain products or services. This mass sharing of information among Tweeters (those who post updates to Twitter) can at times be overwhelming for advertisers to keep up with. However, managing and maintaining your presence within social media outlets is now becoming a crucial part of every marketing strategy.
People who post negative comments simply want to share their experience. These customers want to vent their frustration and disappointment directly at the source. So the question remains; how do you respond to negative comments within social media?
Sharyn Lauby of Mashable, the Social Media Guide says “No matter how proactive you are, customers will start to question your organization when they see problems. And, whenever there is an information-void, those customers will tend to fill in the gaps with their own thoughts on what the cause may be. That’s why it is important to respond to issues quickly, even if the message is just, “we’re looking into it.”
While responding with ‘We’re looking into it’ may temporarily pacify an upset customer; it is suggested that the communication be courteous, understanding and apologetic. Social media is a powerful tool that can easily be used to a company’s advantage. The worst possible thing any business can do, is to ignore problems, especially when technology moves as fast as it does.
No one thought the book 1984 would become a reality when George Orwell wrote it back in 1949. However, it seems that with the increase of technology, 2009 is becoming 1984, especially in the arena of social media. Social media is no longer just a way to socialize with friends or reach loyal and potential customers; it has evolved into a research tool and a tracking device for businesses to watch current or potential employees.
It may seem unconventional, but human resource departments are starting to use social media to do background checks on potential employees. In fact, a recent article by eMarketer Daily shows that job candidates have been helped and hurt based on what they posted on social media sites. Based on stats from the article, HR departments are looking for inappropriate pictures, drug habits, and other things that might deter them from hiring a candidate. However, they’re also looking at communications skills, as well as what a potential job candidate has posted about a previous employer or boss. What a person writes and the pictures they post are fair game for critiquing a potential hire. In fact, a recent article in Computer World said that President Obama warned school children about posting inappropriate material on social media sites because it could come back to haunt them in the future.
Speaking of the future, more and more companies are implementing
corporate social media policies that they ask employees to sign. It’s not about invading privacy, but it’s about protecting the company image and name. Remember what happened to Domino’s. Some companies are encouraging employees to set up two separate profiles. One would be a professional profile and the other would be a personal profile. It could seem over the top to some, but really it’s a safe move. Think about it, what if your employee fans a client site, but has a difference of opinion with the client and vents their frustration to their friends through their social media sites. Oops, that won’t make for good business, especially, if the client catches it before your business does. A corporate social media policy doesn’t sound like a bad idea does it?
Given that social media is being used for researching and tracking by companies; it’s best not to post anything that may seem questionable whether it’s on your professional profile or your personal profile. People may forget what you say, but what you write and post is a different story, and don’t think you’ll just erase it. There are tools out there that can pull deleted posts from websites, but we’ll save that for another blog.
The internet isn’t private; anything you post or write can possibly be used for or against you.
Many times in business, the early adopters gain the most by embracing new marketing techniques. Being first to advertise in a new channel is an indicator of a business’ forward thinking and proactive approach to be on the front line of new technology. In this way, they create new strategies for business development and improve client retention. As a business, its better to be ahead of the curve than trying to play catch up after realizing your competitors beat you to the punch. Social media marketing is gaining more steam and acceptance among the well known brands, but I find many small and mid-size businesses are still dragging their feet.
One reason for pause with many small and mid-size business owners is that they don’t understand the channels from a personal perspective and naturally shy away from the media from a business perspective. Which raises the question, do you have to participate personally in social media sites in order for your business to benefit from the channel? The answer is a resounding “No”.
Back in the day, the phone book was the “go-to” source to find businesses before the internet became such an integral part of our lives. I recall working for a company who was at the forefront of selling online advertising to small and mid size businesses when the phone book was still King. The most common objection business owners gave for passing on the option to utilize the internet to market their business was that “everyone uses the phone book to find us”. Well, fast forward and look at how Search has dominated the way people look for businesses today. I am not here to announce the death of the phone book as an effective marketing tool, but the younger generations simply do not use the phone book anymore. Consequently, it was the early adopters to internet marketing that reaped the greatest benefits as more and more people use search engines to find and research businesses before making a purchase. The experience gained by starting early (and making mistakes along the way) are precious in the long run.
The shift is well on its way with the social media channels. It is a rare occurrence that I don’t see or hear a commercial that references Facebook or Twitter, even though the commercial itself is not promoting either of those sites. These social media networks are simply becoming part of our digital culture. It won’t be long, and we are well on our way, where one’s social network profile will be as commonly used as their cell phone. Businesses who find creative ways to develop a presence in these channels will undoubtedly have the advantage over their competition. It’s a numbers game and your potential customers are gravitating and engaging in social media sites in increasing numbers.