Tuesday, 1 December 2009

How do I control my Company Image in Social Media marketing?

The simple answer is you can’t. You can have the most professional profile on whichever Social Media network you use, but the community around you is free to say whatever they wish. And there’s nothing you can do to stop them. Just as when an unsatisfied customer may bad name you to a friend, your image is no longer your own. It’s shaped and defined by the community around you.

So what to do?

Well, first of all, do your best. If your products and services are the best they can be, then you can’t do any more to improve your client’s reaction to them. If you’re good, then people will talk about that. If you’re bad, likewise, but as some people are more inclined to spread a complaint than a compliment, perhaps they’ll talk even more.

Make sure that the input you do have, i.e. the content on your pages and your dialogues with users, is useful, informative, entertaining and DOES NOT push a marketing message. Your expertise and the personality of your company should come across in the help you give to users and how you conduct these relationships. Direct marketing messages, such as we’re used to on television or elsewhere on the web, will generally be ignored by the majority of the Social Media community. It’s not what they’re here for, and at worst, they could even be alienated by them.

Keep track of the Social Media buzz.

One of your main objectives in your Social Media marketing is to get people talking about your products and services. The problem is, even with the best will in the world, it’s possible that it won’t always be positive. It’s fairly easy to spot this negative feedback if it’s on your own facebook page or any other web presence that you may have, but what if it’s elsewhere? Suppose a disgruntled customer posts a negative video to youtube, but you don’t find out until a client mentions that they’ve seen it… along with the 3 million other viewers that have come across it in the 6 weeks since it was posted. How could you even hope to repair that damage?

If the video was a fire spreading, it’s much easier to deal with the campfire before it engulfs the forest. Various third party applications (like Google Alerts) allow you to monitor whenever keywords, such as your brand or products, are mentioned on the web. If you’re alerted to a negative post as it appears, you can quickly respond, appeasing the user or giving your side of the story.

Hopefully this may stop the fire spreading, but if not, at least your message is carried with it.

Have a clear Social Media policy for your Employees

Social Media websites are extremely popular and are drawing in more and more users daily. There’s therefore a good chance that some or all of your employee use Social Media in one way or another. Obviously you don’t want to impinge on what your staff does with their spare time, but if they have a complaint about their work, you don’t want them to tell the world either. We all might have a moan about work from time to time, but with the advent of Social Media, these moans can now be available for everyone to view online. In a worst case scenario, the moan may even go viral, and quickly reach vast numbers of people.

So how can you avoid this? There’s always the option to make sure none of your employees ever have anything to moan about, but that’s not very realistic. In truth, you can’t guarantee that it won’t happen. The best you can do is reduce the chances by educating your employees to the dangers of loose lips in Social Media and to make them aware that you’re watching!

Always be honest, open and transparent in your Social Media marketing

So you’ve got your facebook page all set up, filled with interesting content and ready to go. But then, you get no comments, or worse still, negative ones. What do you do? You might be tempted by the idea of being a little sneaky, and pretending to be one of your own customers. Post a few positive comments here and there and everything’s good, yes? Afraid not.

Don’t underestimate Social Media users. You may think you’ve covered all the bases in your subterfuge, but the Internet is so vast and complex, that a canny user may be able to expose you. Say you have a member of staff post a comment, with no visible links on facebook to your company. One of your fans takes it upon themselves to check their credibility, and comes across their linkedin profile filled with links to your company. The intrepid fan is unlikely to keep this to themselves, and before you know it, you have a reputation for trying to deceive your community.

I’m sure you’re honest, open and transparent in all your business dealings, but you really can’t afford to be anything but when it comes to Social Media.

1 comment:

  1. I was asked recently for a copy or guidelines for social media policy. Do we have a guideline for writing a policy? Well not really, there are do's and don'ts yes, but without getting to know an organisation and its industry it is hard to suggest something that covers all industries and all the groups social media affects. Here was my answer.

    Instead of developing just a ‘policing policy’, as you know or will soon find out, you have a lot less control then you think with social media, even with a written policy document.

    I still believe a document of do’s and don’ts is required we have something similar here where we call it non-negotiables, which is a simple list that covers not just social media, but how we conduct ourselves in the workplace. what we do online is the same as offline so we would consider, bullying, lewd conduct, fowl language, illegal drugs use, passing on confidential data (the list goes on) as non-negotiable activities; on and offline we see no distinction.

    Just a policing policy is a just short-term solution. The real solution is in developing a plan to teach your audience, customers and staff etc the benefits of social media and how it can be used for good in the future. I would suggest that if you decide to become more involved in social media and you implement it into your marketing strategy, part of the plan would be to communicate effectively your intentions and goals to your different audiences.