Small Business Advice | Online Brand Management

I don’t need to spell out the inexorable rise of Facebook and Twitter and other social media tools over the last five years or so. And, because of this we’re all aware that there’s never been a time when the voice of the world could be heard either so easily, or so audibly. Although it’s exciting to see that the thoughts and actions of millions can now be broadcast instantaneously around the globe, it can have major implications for business – particularly those organisations with a keen eye on managing everything from reputation through to customer service. Those firms that can get a grip on what others are saying about them and react to it in real time, stand a much greater chance of improving customer loyalty and developing a respected brand.

Despite some of the negativity surrounding social media, jumping aboard the social media train can be a really worthwhile pursuit.  There is little doubt that if done correctly, social media can be an invaluable tool that will bring you closer to your customers, colleagues and business partners, improving the overall running and future of your business. However, the trick is not to rush into it. Remember that you’re businesses reputation has never been so valuable, and that a heavy handed approach can leave your business quite vulnerable. Here are a few things that I’d suggest considering before you venture into the world of social media:

Know your brand and understand your audience – it’s crucial to have firm grasp on the image and brand of your business. Set aside some time to put together a definitive plan of the direction and tone of your company, and analyse the profile of your audience. Maintain audience engagement and trust by staying consistent. Use a tool like Radian 6 which provides a dashboard to monitor, review, and analyses your brand within the corresponding social networking community.

Be prepared for the positive and the negative – social media allows you to create a 3D personality for your company. It’s a chance to really reinforce your brand and interact with customers in real time. However, you must be prepared to accept that there may be criticisms and they will be public. A useful tool to help monitor this is Scoutlabs, which allows you to see posts or conversations, track word association and delivers an automated sentiment so you know whether the chatter online about you is good, bad or neutral.

Invest time in execution and evaluation – creating a profile on one of the social media channels isn’t a standalone solution; you need to invest time and effort. Friends, fans and followers will soon lose interest if your messages are sporadic or irrelevant. A team or individual dedicated to social media will not only aid you in getting your profile out there, but it will help to monitor responses and track trend changes. Sysomos provides a 360 view of social media conversations from all social channels including forums, video sites, blogs, social networks, and media.There are many tools and services designed to make your social media experience an easy and productive one, so don’t be afraid to use them. Don’t be intimidated by the scale of the market, just be brave and stay true to your brand.

David

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2 Responses

  1. Hey there and thanks for including Radian6 in your post! You’re correct – a lot of brands want to maintain control of the messages that exist about their brand both online and offline. Negative mentions are quite often very scary for people to see, and tracking, measuring, and responding to these mentions can be a scary endeavor. However, negative mentions are just as big of an opportunity as positive mentions, and many brands have seen a formerly disgruntled customer turn into a satisfied one (or even an advocate) after they pick up on something they said online.

    Katie Morse
    Community Manager | Radian6
    @misskatiemo

  2. This is some great advice.
    People are going to be talking about your business online whether or not you’re there as well, so it’s always better to know what’s being said and learn from it. Listening and learning is just as important as the other half of social media that is “joining the conversation”.

    Also, thanks for recommending Sysomos as a useful tool.

    Cheers,

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

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