If you read my last article on The Far-Reaching Effects of Social Media (and I know you did because you’re such a fan), your eyes were opened on how influential social media can be. That being said, what’s the overall social media takeaway for any business?
• Have good social media presence. I say “good” as juxtaposed to say, neutral, or bad. You want consumers to think positive about your brand. In our day and age that means not only that they’ve heard of your company (that’s neutral territory) but they’ve been impressed by it on a personal level. Personal. Meaning that they’ve interacted with your company on some positive level or been so impressed by it that they are recommending it to friends.
It used to be extremely difficult for companies to touch base with the everyday consumer. Not anymore. Social media enables companies to interact with customers like never before. Which is great – unless you’re really good at ignoring them, giving them stock answers for grievances, or outright offending them with responses.
The sooner a business knows consumers aren’t happy with them, the sooner they can make adjustments.
• Be prepared to own up to mistakes. Be aware of how your business is perceived and tackle disconcerting issues immediately and head on. The public knows when they are being played, which means businesses have to act with integrity. Always. No amount of owning up will ever look as bad as scrambling to come up with a cover that the public just might swallow. Scrambling never works, so acknowledge what actually happened, make the apologies, address the public’s concerns, state ongoing solutions, and move forward.
Social media can crucify a person’s reputation within hours via trending hashtags. But it can also be a means to reach a wider audience quickly. It’s a new way to make sure as many people as possible are hearing your message. Of course, think and rethink what that message is going to be. The claim once existed that any publicity is good publicity. Considering that people have more or less had their careers ended via Twitter, I’m not convinced that’s the case anymore. Don’t assume that just because you are “small potatoes” (either the company itself or your level on the corporate ladder) that you’ll be able to tweet something controversial and have it go unnoticed.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t stand by our principles. If our principles are controversial, whatever those principles are, we have to be willing to hang our professional lives on them.
• Always utilize honest business practices. Transparency is important to the consumer. However, it’s hard to accomplish that with any sort of sincerity if there are shady deals taking place. Furthermore, attempting to portray a straight-laced company after some catastrophe has landed the company on the front page will be seen as too little, too late.
Sometimes businesses are seemingly put in the tough position of having to choose between the continued success of the business or owning up to something that could spell its doom. It’s always better not to have the skeleton in the closet – not only from a moral perspective but from a “you-never-know-when-your-company-will-be-in-the-hot-seat” perspective.
When weighing the pros and cons of making that deal with the devil, if the morality of the situation doesn’t compel you, at the very least ask yourself, what would happen to your career if the action you are contemplating went viral on Twitter?
Even though we know backroom deals go down, we like to remain under the illusion they don’t. Who wants to do business with a company known for dishonesty? At heart, “there is no honor among thieves” holds a lot of sway with where consumers are willing to spend their money.
To conclude, every company has, or should have, a dedicated fireman. Someone whose sole purpose is to deal with problems that arise between the mass consumer and the company. Social media is a huge boon to that fireman.
In the event that your company is thrown a curve ball, use social media to your advantage. Hopefully you’ve already been interacting with your consumers and you’re seen as credible. If that still isn’t garnering their vote of confidence in your business, you might have to weather it and hope for the best.
Be honest, be positive, be dedicated. And use social media to do it.