Social media: Fanning the flames of reputation, but avoiding a wildfire Social media: Fanning the flames of reputation, but avoiding a wildfire

Social media: Fanning the flames of reputation, but avoiding a wildfire
17 Nov 2017

The idea of something going viral on social media is both dreamed of and feared by employers. As much as it can add brilliant traction to a sales and marketing campaign and be hugely beneficial, many reputation-damaging crises have been caused, exacerbated or blown out of proportion by it too.

Statistics show that more than 300 million people used Twitter each month in 2015 - and the number continues to increase. But Twitter is only one of the many and ever-multiplying social media platforms that you have at your disposal – and each of them could deal a significant blow to your reputation if you’re not careful.

Research suggests that happy customers tell around four to six people about their experience with an organisation, whereas a dissatisfied one will discuss it with between nine and 15. Around 13% of these dissatisfied customers will actually complain to more than 20 people, and that’s even before sharing their unhappiness with others online.

But thanks to social media, one unhappy customer can inform thousands of people in an instant about their poor experience, and your reputation can be irreparably damaged in a matter of minutes.

As a result, it’s surprising just how many businesses still aren’t taking social media seriously enough, leaving both their reputation and their share price open to attack. To put it simply, social media can be your greatest asset, or your total undoing. So here are my three top tips to ensure it’s not the latter:

1. With great power comes great responsibility

Building and maintaining your reputation is a key business function, so ultimately someone needs to be responsible for ensuring reputation management is taking place.

For instance, back in 2013, HMV staff took over the company’s official Twitter feed to vent their displeasure after being fired en mass. Although the tweets were only up for a brief moment, they were all received by the firm’s 62,000-strong followers. But the one that really got me thinking read: “Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask ‘How do I shut down Twitter?” It was unbelievable - a marketing manager with no access to the organisation’s social mouthpiece.

Countless digital wildfires could have been extinguished much quicker if a knowledgeable person had been in charge and put a plan in place to counter any unexpected happenings.

So the questions to ask yourself based on HMV’s experience are:

• Do you have one individual responsible for managing your social media?
• What do they know about the company’s values?
• Are they adequately prepared and authorised to deal with any mishaps and, therefore, to limit the damage?
• Has the organisation invested in social media monitoring tools?

Knowing the answers to these questions is vital to avoid being taken by surprise.

2. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

Honesty truly is the best policy, but it’s incredible how many businesses stumble at this hurdle. Whatever has happened, tell the truth and be transparent. Don’t try and wiggle your way out of it. It’s better coming from you than from a competitor or, worse still, a customer with a grudge.

There’s also no use telling the truth if it’s only 50% of the story. When (not if) everything comes to light, the public will feel betrayed and you will lose their trust. Look at Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal as a prime example. So don’t hold back, even if the reality is ugly – do your best to give all of the facts as soon as possible.

3. The need for speed

With the immediacy of social media, the need for a speedy response is non-negotiable. One recent survey from digital marketing specialists Convince & Convert revealed that 40% of customers who complained on social media expected to receive a response in under an hour and 32% in under 30 minutes.

Slow responses will leave your customers on edge and feeling frustrated and neglected. If you’re not ready to reassure them or defend yourself, you leave room for unauthorised messages to float around. But a crisis is no respecter of time – the Twittersphere won’t wait for you to craft the perfect apology. Having someone who knows your values to monitor conversations and sentiment about the brand will provide the key insights that empower you to move swiftly if any issues arise.

So there you have it. Social media is an incredible tool, which if harnessed correctly and with awareness, can be used to achieve great things for your company’s reputation. Crises are inevitable at some stage but don’t have to be debilitating. So ensure your organisation puts in the time now so that it knows how to avoid a wildfire and is able instead to fan the flames of loyalty among its ever-increasing base of social media-savvy customers.

“It’s surprising just how many businesses still aren’t taking social media seriously enough, leaving both their reputation and their share price open to attack.”

 

- By Jennifer Janson, managing director, Six Degrees

 

The idea of something going viral on social media is both dreamed of and feared by employers. As much as it can add brilliant traction to a sales and marketing campaign and be hugely beneficial, many reputation-damaging crises have been caused, exacerbated or blown out of proportion by it too.

Statistics show that more than 300 million people used Twitter each month in 2015 - and the number continues to increase. But Twitter is only one of the many and ever-multiplying social media platforms that you have at your disposal – and each of them could deal a significant blow to your reputation if you’re not careful.

Research suggests that happy customers tell around four to six people about their experience with an organisation, whereas a dissatisfied one will discuss it with between nine and 15. Around 13% of these dissatisfied customers will actually complain to more than 20 people, and that’s even before sharing their unhappiness with others online.

But thanks to social media, one unhappy customer can inform thousands of people in an instant about their poor experience, and your reputation can be irreparably damaged in a matter of minutes.

As a result, it’s surprising just how many businesses still aren’t taking social media seriously enough, leaving both their reputation and their share price open to attack. To put it simply, social media can be your greatest asset, or your total undoing. So here are my three top tips to ensure it’s not the latter:

1. With great power comes great responsibility

Building and maintaining your reputation is a key business function, so ultimately someone needs to be responsible for ensuring reputation management is taking place.

For instance, back in 2013, HMV staff took over the company’s official Twitter feed to vent their displeasure after being fired en mass. Although the tweets were only up for a brief moment, they were all received by the firm’s 62,000-strong followers. But the one that really got me thinking read: “Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask ‘How do I shut down Twitter?” It was unbelievable - a marketing manager with no access to the organisation’s social mouthpiece.

Countless digital wildfires could have been extinguished much quicker if a knowledgeable person had been in charge and put a plan in place to counter any unexpected happenings.

So the questions to ask yourself based on HMV’s experience are:

• Do you have one individual responsible for managing your social media?
• What do they know about the company’s values?
• Are they adequately prepared and authorised to deal with any mishaps and, therefore, to limit the damage?
• Has the organisation invested in social media monitoring tools?

Knowing the answers to these questions is vital to avoid being taken by surprise.

2. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

Honesty truly is the best policy, but it’s incredible how many businesses stumble at this hurdle. Whatever has happened, tell the truth and be transparent. Don’t try and wiggle your way out of it. It’s better coming from you than from a competitor or, worse still, a customer with a grudge.

There’s also no use telling the truth if it’s only 50% of the story. When (not if) everything comes to light, the public will feel betrayed and you will lose their trust. Look at Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal as a prime example. So don’t hold back, even if the reality is ugly – do your best to give all of the facts as soon as possible.

3. The need for speed

With the immediacy of social media, the need for a speedy response is non-negotiable. One recent survey from digital marketing specialists Convince & Convert revealed that 40% of customers who complained on social media expected to receive a response in under an hour and 32% in under 30 minutes.

Slow responses will leave your customers on edge and feeling frustrated and neglected. If you’re not ready to reassure them or defend yourself, you leave room for unauthorised messages to float around. But a crisis is no respecter of time – the Twittersphere won’t wait for you to craft the perfect apology. Having someone who knows your values to monitor conversations and sentiment about the brand will provide the key insights that empower you to move swiftly if any issues arise.

So there you have it. Social media is an incredible tool, which if harnessed correctly and with awareness, can be used to achieve great things for your company’s reputation. Crises are inevitable at some stage but don’t have to be debilitating. So ensure your organisation puts in the time now so that it knows how to avoid a wildfire and is able instead to fan the flames of loyalty among its ever-increasing base of social media-savvy customers.

“It’s surprising just how many businesses still aren’t taking social media seriously enough, leaving both their reputation and their share price open to attack.”

 

- By Jennifer Janson, managing director, Six Degrees

 

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