Online brand reputation management has grown significantly over the last few years. It is also seen that social media networks can be very demanding when it comes to interaction between brands and their customers / consumers.
Is managing your brands reputation online really very difficult? How are brands like Zappos doing such a great job with delighting customers? The situation in India is better than a year back, but there is still a lot of scope for improvement.
If social media gives certain powers to people, it also gives numerous opportunities for brands to build positive brand perception among its current and prospective customers. Below are 14 suggested ways brands can manage their online brand reputation on social media platforms.
14 Ways Brands Can Get Online Reputation Management Right On Social Media
1. Acknowledge brand mentions on social media. Never mind if a comment is positive, negative or neutral, prove your brand diligence by acknowledging the mention and follow this up with the required response.
2. Interact on the platform where the comment initiated. This simply means if someone initiates a conversation / comment / complaint on Twitter, acknowledge, respond and address their comment on Twitter itself. There is no need to make a video on YouTube and suggest that as a response!
3. Be genuinely apologetic. Don’t say sorry without meaning it. This is easy to catch, and extremely annoying. To ensure this does not happen, the customer service executive must be trained to be empathetic towards the customer.
4. Create brand owned forums. Try to control the unpredictable nature of social media by creating a platform for consumers to file their grievances on. This will help in monitoring complains, allocating responsibilities and improving response and closure rates. This forum can be completely controlled by the brand, ensuring that social media chaos across various platforms is limited.
5. Know when to take a complainant offline. Don’t try to take a customer to a private mode of conversation to avoid publicly addressing the comment. Handle the situation confidently on social media so public eyes can appreciate your customer care as well. Take the request offline at the right moment – for privacy, etc.
6. Use technology to empower your brand team. Invest in available tools and technology to ensure your brand team can monitor your brand online. There are a number ofsocial media listening tools where in you can monitor your brand hashtags, critical keywords associated with your brand, etc. Some of the tools are:
- Social Mention
- Google Alerts
7. Engage with both your current and prospective customers. Ensure you engage (reply, respond, like, share, address a comment) on social media mentioning your brand. For example, act quickly in response to any customer issue, ensuring the complainant understands that you have taken notice of the comment. Be nice, kind and clear in all your communication. Being proactive and authentic are favored mannerisms on social media.
8. Have a communication strategy. This is a critical step in the journey of managing your brand’s online reputation on social media. It is critical for you to develop a detailed communication strategy. This must tickle down to all departments that should collaborate with each other internally. Also, prepare your team to handle any kind of reputational crisis. All these can be achieved by:
- having a ready plan,
- effective and regular internal training for all those who are customer facing personnel, and
- assigning clear, defined responsibilities for every individual in the team.
9. Be specific about your reply. Don’t give ambiguous statements in response to a comment or a customer issue. Be very specific about what you are addressing, what your next step would be or what you’d like the customer to take as a next step.
10. Humanize your communication. This is a pivotal point. Every team who is client/consumer facing, should be sensitized to the state of mind of a consumer irrespective of whether they compliment or complain. Both situations must be handled without pride or resentment.
11. Differentiate between a troll and a genuine customer. A highly aggravated customer can be mistaken for a troll (and vice versa) but consistent communication and collection of background information can help make this differentiation. This is a point which should also be addressed during internal trainings.
12. Allocate a budget for online reputation management. Without a budget, the task gets no priority, no technology assistance or personnel. Ensuring you put a budget against this will enable the department to invest in tools. It will also ensure they are held accountable for social media conversations around the brand.
13. Learn from your competitors’ mistakes. Brands can learn from their competition on what to do and more importantly what not to do on social media while handling reputation management for the brand. An example that comes to mind is the Twitter handle of Nestle Maggi @MaggiIndia – it has become a case study in marketing classrooms on what not to do while managing a brand’s online reputation while consumers pour their concerns on Twitter.
14. Know where to participate in conversations. Don’t jump on to trending topics and hashtags without understanding the context. For example, DiGiorno made an embarrassing mistake when they jumped into a trending hashtag conversation on #WhyIStayedhashtag. The hashtag was for individuals who continued to stay in a relationship while facing abuse.
The pizza joint got into the conversation with an extremely insensitive and unrelated reply which got them a lot of social media flak – all this because they did not take the time out to understand the context of the hashtag.
5 Mistakes Brands Cannot Make for Positive Brand Perception
We also offer suggestions on what brands absolutely shouldn’t be doing on social media.
1. Set auto replies on social media. Communication is best served personalized. Have a team ready to answer, comment, or acknowledge the good, bad and neutral comments / questions. Do not send automated responses as social media is all about human connections.
2. Don’t be in hurry to close. Customer service personnel are driven by internal KPIs on which their performance is measured. This pressure forces them to try and close issues at the earliest, often at the cost of quality customer service. Changing this requires a paradigm shift of mindset that must start from the top decision makers.
3. Don’t take customers for granted. You know what’s worse than not getting a meaningless response from a brand? Not getting any response at all. Taking your own time and disrespecting your customers’ time or taking them for granted is a big no-no on social media.
A study by Lithium Technologies found that 53% of customers who ask a brand a question on Twitter expect a response within 1 hour regardless of when they tweeted, with that percentage rising to 72% if it’s a complaint.
4. Don’t make false promises. Not honoring your word is one of the biggest mistakes brands make on social media. If you say you’ll call by evening, do it. If you are not the right person to make any claims or give assurances, be honest about it and connect the consumer with someone who can.
5. Don’t flame competition brands. Not only is this in poor taste but it creates a negative perception about your brand. You come across as a brand that must bring down its competition to drive attention to itself. Instead, focus on your own positives and be dignified about your responses.
For those who would like to listen to an in-depth discussion on this, we also have a podcast – listen to it right here
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This blog post is brought to you by:
Monica Samuel – Faculty at WMA
Sejal P – Guest Blogger
Suresh Babu – CEO & Founder WMA