Online social networks like Facebook and Twitter are quickly becoming the fastest and most direct way for customers and consumers to share their experiences about the products, services, and experiences that they have. The main reason for this is convenience – customers don’t want to spend time waiting on automated phone lines to explain their situation. Another reason is the public nature of social media – a complaint on a page with thousands of eyeballs on it is more likely to get noticed and resolved then a private issue.
It’s not just web businesses either, real-world businesses such as hotels, restaurants, or doctors can suffer from stains on their reputation through local social networks like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and AngiesList. By not monitoring and maintaining your online reputation on the social web, your brand name can be stigmatized with a scarlet letter that can and will hurt future business. Here are our tips:
- Don’t Wait for it to “Blow Over” -The sooner you address a problem, the faster it will be resolved. Most customers, when handled carefully and respectfully, will appreciate the response and share their positive experience. With minimal effort, you’ve turned a bad situation into an example of fine service. By ignoring customer requests on your social networks, you are disappointing the customer, and everyone can see how you blew it.
- Always be Monitoring – Not every issue will come across the official social account or contact form for your business. Most likely, a person will post something negative using your brand name to their main account, putting it front and center in the feeds of their connections. By using saved searches, page tagging, and Google alerts, you can see brand or name mentions in posts even if people are not fans or followers.
- Go to the Source – Don’t underestimate the people who reach out to you. With social media, you have the ability to peek into their social network, and discover how your brand fits in their life. You can also reach out to them in an offline capacity, such as a direct phone call to resolve the problem that they are having.
- Don’t Feed the Trolls – There are people out there that have nothing more to do than harass others. If you find comments or posts that seem like they were designed purely to make you angry, they probably are. Don’t waste time with frivolous comments that bring down the level of discourse.
As potential customers become more empowered to vet their product and service providers, online reputations become just as important as personal reputations. Unsatisfied customers should always be expected, and a system to put them at ease can pay in spades if they share their positive experience. If you try to ignore the problem, or get defensive, the wrath of the internet can be unleashed – take a look at what happened to Cooks Source Magazine or Paul Christoforo.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with negative publicity and unsure about what to do, you can turn to a online reputation management service to help control the situation. Online rep management services use proven methods to make negative content less visible in search engines, and create fresh content to establish your brand name as an authority in your market.