Consumers are Flocking to Social Brands — Is Your Reputation Helping or Hurting Your Business? August 26, 2013
The rush to join social media we’ve seen from businesses of every size and across every industry has been happening for too long now to be called a fad or passing trend.
The fact is companies stand to make substantial increases in revenue and gain strong competitive advantages by going social. The key to capitalizing on this opportunity is understanding why this is the case:
Social media empowers customers. It allows them to get instant access to information about anything they plan to spend money on before they decide to pull out their credit cards, so if your product or service sucks you can count on people finding out about it through their friends on social media. What’s worse is that this kind of negative story spreads rapidly. Studies have actually shown that anger is the most viral emotion, which means unhappy customers are the most likely to be vocal about their discontent and their angry tone will make other people want to share their posts to their own followers. If this happens to your brand you could find yourself quickly losing your position in the marketplace.
Unless, you step in and do something about it!
Controlling the negative impact of a bad online story is part of why successful organizations place so much emphasis on online reputation management. By having a social presence and monitoring the stories and conversations happening about their businesses, top brands with strong reputation management teams can often mitigate the damage of a bad story, or even prevent it entirely. Not only that sometimes you can even flip a negative story to become a positive one!
Let’s look at a scenario for this: An unhappy customer takes to their Twitter account to post about an awful experience they have with your product. If you didn’t have a social media presence, there’s no way you would be able to engage this customer, and she and her friends could start a discussion that bashes your brand. And it would all be visible to their collective followers. This would be a large blow to your company’s image.
Lucky for you though, you do have a social media presence and a great reputation management team, so when the negative tweet gets posted you respond to the customer immediately. You address the customer’s complaint, help them resolve their problem, and even give them a small freebie for the inconvenience. Let’s see what this does…
First, it makes the customer feel like they matter to the brand, and that your company values having their business. Not only does being treated well make the person want to recommend your company to their friends, increasing sales for your business in the process, but they also actively want to brag about how they got the VIP treatment from you. This means not only will the recommend your product or service it if happens to come up in conversation, they want to start the conversation themselves so they can show their social group how special they are to get treated so well by you. By providing excellent customer support, you strategically turned an angry customer into an evangelist for your brand!
In addition to allowing your business to reign in negative stories about your brand and turn unhappy customers into evangelists, becoming active on social media also has proactive positive impacts on your brand’s reputation that don’t require you to be reacting to a negative situation first.
Building online communities using social media allows you to create social proof for potential new customers that your product or service is great. People don’t form groups around bad businesses that have worthless products and terrible customer service. If you are able to build an active community around your brand and its offerings, it shows your prospects that your claims are legitimate and your company isn’t a scam. If you can get a large group of people to rally around your business on social media, people on the outside of the group (your prospects) will wonder what all the hype is about, and it will go a long way to getting them to start buying from you as well.
A social presence also makes prospects and customers feel at ease that if they encounter a problem they will be able to reach you. With all of the customer service horror stories spreading online, from Dell, to AT&T, to Comcast, consumers are now putting a premium on customer service. Businesses like Zappos and Apple have been renowned for going above and beyond for their customers, and they’re leaders in their categories in part because of that. Like the example before about the unhappy customer that became an evangelist, now that everyone has the ability to publish their thoughts and experiences using social media, all it takes is one negative comment to go viral and your whole business could go down in flames.
How does your company manage its online reputation? Share with us in the comments!
P.S. Did you know that here at The Link Builders we are experts at managing our client’s reputations online? Check out these testimonials and then get in touch with us so we can let you know how we can help protect your business from bad online press and grow your revenue stream from social media!0