5 ways to protect your brand reputation on social media.
Warren Buffet hit the nail on the head when he said: “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it”. Brands put a lot of effort into building their reputation but it just takes one silly mistake for it all to come crashing down.
Many of the largest brands have ran into trouble on social media at some point or other. For example, the supermarket chain Tesco didn’t do itself any favours during the horse meat scandal when an ill-timed tweet went out stating that workers were tired and ‘off to hit the hay’. The tweet quickly went viral and while many people could see the funny side it was heavily criticised for being in poor taste. The company claimed that the tweet was scheduled before the horse meat scandal came out and forgot to delete it. See how easy it can be?
In the past protecting your brand was much easier. If someone complained who would hear about it? Husband? Next-door neighbour? Sounds like the ideal situation, right? It was, but then along came social media – and changed everything. Protecting your brand online is a whole different ball game. Just one negative review can end up in front of millions of eyeballs and that can have devastating consequences for your business.
Social media is a double-edged sword – it offers tremendous opportunities for brands but it also has a destructive power that leaves brands vulnerable. So, how can you protect your brand reputation on social media? Here are five tips:
1. Deal with customer complaints head on
If a customer is unhappy with your brand the world is going to know about it. Customer complaints are unavoidable but it’s the way you respond to them that’s important. If you deal with customer complaints effectively it’s not impossible to turn an unhappy customer into a brand advocate.
We’ve had clients panicking on the phone because they’ve received a complaint on Facebook and the first thing they always ask is – do we delete it? The answer is no. It’s important to tackle these head on. Don’t let it linger, respond straightaway and nip it in the bud. Your response should be positive and apologetic and you should offer to continue the discussion offline to help rectify the problem. Not only does this give the customer the chance to go into more detail but it shows that you really do care about putting things right.
2. Engage with your audience
Gone are the days of one-way communication where the brand dominates the conversation – customers now have a voice. Engagement is the holy grail of social media so if you’re not going to engage with your audience you might as well have no profile at all – but who wants to lose out on all those benefits?
By engaging with your audience you can build relationships and ultimately turn them into brand advocates – you never know when you might need them to vouch for you.
Even if your brand is squeaky clean sometimes things still go wrong and when the angry mob with virtual torches and pitchforks come gunning for you it’s good to know someone has your back. Batman might have Robin, Han Solo might have Chewbacca but if you play your cards right you could have a loyal following of fans. You never know when you might need them so make sure you build up brand loyalty by responding to both positive and negative comments. Sometimes people just like to be heard so a little acknowledgement goes a long way.
3. Introduce a clear social media policy
It’s important that everyone in your organisation works together to protect your brand reputation. Introduce a social media policy outlining your guidelines and expectations – and monitor it.
On top of that you should only give your login details to people who require them and when an employee leaves the company don’t forget to update them. In 2013, disgruntled HMV employees hijacked the company’s own Twitter account and sent out tweets such as “just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask ‘How do I shut down Twitter?” Yes, this actually happened. Don’t be that fool.
4. Fact check and spell check your content
We don’t want to sound like your school English teacher all over again but make sure you check your content for spelling and grammar. The grammar police are all over the web so don’t give them any ammunition. If you’re unsure why don’t you sign up for the likes of Grammarly? I swear by this tool. Not only does it highlight your mistakes but it offers suggestions so you can’t go wrong. As well as spelling and grammar you need to check your facts. A simple mistake could cost you greatly.
5. Search for rogue social media profiles
Social media can be a dark place where imposters can set up rogue social media profiles and send out false tweets. Not only does this damage your brand reputation but they confuse search engines so it’s important to keep an eye on this. Regularly search each social media platform for your brand name and if you come across any duplicate accounts make contact with the online help centre to find out how you can remedy the situation.
To help combat this issue Twitter has introduced a blue tick feature. This is basically a badge of authenticity that helps users identify legitimate accounts. We also recommend that you claim your brand name across all social media platforms before someone else does.
Don’t leave it until it’s too late, prevention is better than cure. It’s easier to protect your brand’s reputation rather than picking up the pieces after a crisis so make sure you follow our tips and if you would like any further information please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Written by Jacqui Keiss, Digital Account Manager at Root & Toot. You can follow Jacqui on Twitter at @JacquiKeiss