Your brand is an extension of your organization’s reputation — successes, failures, evolution, and groundbreaking moments. Because of that, managing your online brand is critical to marketing, and the lightning pace of social media has changed the branding game. A strong reputation reinforces positive branding; on the flip side, marketing can become a much greater chore when a negative reputation or unclear branding get in the way.
A company’s reputation can influence or even control how the public perceives a brand. What ideas come to mind when you think of Apple? It’s probably innovation, sleek designs, and good user interfaces. Regardless of whether or not it’s true — and in reality, there are no absolutes for any product or service — those are the memes developed through reputation and reinforced by branding.
As social media has evolved into an everyday tool, we’ve seen instances of strengthened branding and tarnished reputations through the power of Facebook and Twitter. If someone has a difficult customer service experience, that story can quickly go viral, and without a strong social media presence, this can turn the usual ebbs and flows of public opinion into a tidal wave against you. There’s no way to make sure that every employee is absolutely perfect or every product comes with absolutely zero defects; that’s just not possible. However, it IS possible to be proactive through social media in an effort to minimize problems before they get out of control. When done properly, that’s the ideal strategy for online brand protection.
It is very important for organizations to have strong social media presence nowadays. From the very beginning, active social media accounts show that your organization is engaged. That’s your first layer of protection — being known as approachable and responsive. If a disgruntled customer takes to Twitter, your social media manager can directly respond to both the situation and the customer so that a sensible and agreeable resolution is reached. This helps brand management in multiple ways:
1) It stops the original customer complaint before it snowballs into a larger problem under public scrutiny
2) By publicly responding, it shows that you’re willing to acknowledge and correct mistakes
3) By making amends, it demonstrates that you believe in a customer-first policy
These three points can go a long way to enhancing your brand and protecting it from social media damage. But what if there’s a bigger issue at play? When responding to a larger problem — for example, a negative report in the media — social media outlets allow for an unfiltered and direct channel to the consumer. It’s a simple yet effective way to answer questions, present facts, and share relevant information, which can be particularly crucial if the goal is to debunk a negative meme about your brand.
Misunderstandings run rampant across the internet, which means that clarity is absolutely important. A significant part of that is your choice of words and tone on social media. Friendly, professional, and — perhaps most importantly — being humble goes a long, long way with consumers. The wrong choice of words can sway the public’s perception of your organization, even if the intent was completely innocent. The safer play is to go as professional and courteous as possible; this approach may have a far greater reach than you realize.
It’s difficult to please everyone. However, your brand’s reputation is greatly influenced from general opinion — and while you can’t control everything people say about you on social media, you CAN provide timely and professional responses. When it comes to online brand protection, that more than anything is your best bet to customer satisfaction.