Gone are the days when companies could manage and control their reputation and communication that went to into the public arena. From battling over bad customer service to celebrity bashing, Social Media had become a crucial weapon in the hands of the ‘Aam Janata’ and if not used wisely, can cut corporate skin.
Here are ways in which companies’ can protect their reputation on social media, or at least try their best to!
Hire Social Media Marketers
According to a recent report in Business Today, Indian corporates now spend almost 10 percent of their marketing budgets on social media alone. For bigger enterprises, the Corporate Communications department alone is no more equipped to battle complaints, uproars and praises that their brands get on social media. The job of handling social media accounts is usually outsourced to smaller digital marketing firms which specialize in tracking real time feedback, identifying relevant complaints, setting up a feedback system and sensing which segment of users are likely to make trouble. Such hired skills will save half the battle and a sizeable chunk of money in maintaining corporate reputation on social media.
How much would it take to harm the reputation of a leading Indian bank if a customer posted a Tweet about how terribly a branch manager behaved with him/her? 2 seconds or less? While this is a small-scale example, Social Media can do great harm to big brand names if customer reactions are not tackled quickly. For instance, an error on the part of the company or a customer complaint that can have pan-India repercussions can be immediately responded to by the top level management through a YouTube video or a
Don’t be dishonest
Social media is infamously famous for catching brands that put up a dishonest face, apologize only for the heck of apologizing, don’t take appropriate corrective actions or over / under respond. One tweet or one Facebook ‘like’ means that the customer is DIRECTLY talking to you. There’s no hierarchy, pushing back the blame on someone else or ‘getting back’ to the customer after a few days. Since everything is real time, the company must respond honestly to the customer, whether it is a query, complaint or positive feedback.
Remember, your response to one customer will influence the retention (or not) of a thousand others. Many companies have got flak on social media not because the grievance was serious, but for the way the query was responded to.
Use Social Media for Generating Brand Positivity
This article’s purpose is not to point out that social media is lethal, but it can also be used as a tool to generate brand positivity on a regular basis. For example, HDFC Bank has been one of the few Indian brands that has been actively involved with social media and engages with its customers for matters apart from usual business, promotions and its new products. Tata Docomo too has a sizeable following on Facebook and generates positivity by involving customers in contests, freebies and more information about their brand.
According to a Business Today report, social media marketing personnel have observed incidents of loyal customers who have come to the rescue of a brand by counter responding to other customer’s complaints. Not only does this mean protection of corporate reputation but also increase in goodwill through word of mouth.
If an organization invests time and takes care of some of these basic guidelines in the Social Media world – it can make a huge positive difference in brand reputation – Let us know what you think1