Social media is a communication tool that brings people together. However, it seems that often social media can cause more harm than good, especially when it involves your personal or professional brand and reputation.
This is where the best brands (personal and corporate) have learned to use social media not as a form of advertising and promotion, but as a tool to manage customer perceptions about their brand.
The first rule of social media is to listen. And yet this seems to be an area where many people and organizations miss out on some of the most crucial data in the marketing world; what your customers want. What is the point in spending time, money, resources planning your posts for your audience, when its content that they don’t actually want? There is not much point, and it’s a waste of time. As Jehan Hamedi said in an article he wrote for dmnews.com, “I propose that..social media [should be seen] as a massive data repository, a digitized focus group with millions of unpaid participants.” There it is. You have right in front of you, a virtually free tool, that can help you gauge customer sentiments and desires, whether they be positive or negative. What to do with this information is really where the best brands separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
The Positive Sentiments
If you are getting positive feedback from your customers on social media, then a big congrats is in order because that is no easy feat! Responding to these types of posts are fairly simple and allow you to interact with the people that are already in love with your product. When people express that they enjoyed a product, service, or experience, this is your brand’s chance to apply the figurative super glue to the bond that you’ve created with your customer, and make them fans for life. Brands get really creative with this, and if you pay attention, a lot can be learned from their tactics.
Additionally, this gives you an opportunity to discover what it is that people prefer about a brand versus its competition. Again, extremely valuable information. Responding to positive sentiments is fun, and is fairly simple. What is difficult has become increasingly so, is responding to people who are flat out angry.
If you want to hear and see the negativity that floods social media, look no further than Jimmy Kimmel’s “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” segment of his late-night show. These segments are a hit, and hilariously funny, but it suddenly becomes less funny when it’s your name or brand that is the brunt of the joke.
The goal of a brand should be to never have an unhappy customer, but unfortunately, it happens to even the best. The formula to respond is quite simple, do everything you can to right the wrong. Below, JetBlue was able to assist this frustrated flyer when he had his flight delayed.
JetBlue didn’t do much, but the fact that they were listening, and responded, probably helped ease the mind of this customer.
Many times when people have issues or complaints, the solution can be very simple. The customer may not have had all the information, they may not have had clear instructions, they may have been misinformed. The fact that they have expressed that in the open, should be seen as a wonderful opportunity to give them all the information, give them clear instructions, and inform them of what actually is correct. Not only will this response benefit the user who has the issue, but because social media is a public place, the good information can possibly be the answer for others as well.
Brand management and reputation management are difficult things to successfully do, but through active listening and responding through social media, the management can seem a bit more manageable.
Social media is brand management, customer service, sales, advertising, and marketing all bundled up together. Pretty convenient right?