Social media has now become a somewhat of an essential tool for engaging with customers more and increasing brand awareness. However, as you’ll no doubt have experienced, not everyone knows how to use it correctly. And if used incorrectly, your social media image can damage your brand image.

When your customers (past, present and potentially future) interact with your business’ social media they’re perceiving a sense of who you are as both a person and a company to deal with – ie: they’re forming a social media image.

By sending out the right social media image (ie: the one that’s consistent with their experience of you AND their expectations of the brand – ie: your brand image), you can ensure customers engage with you and share your content, build and extend long term relationships and you can increase social referral traffic.

If you, or your business has a Twitter account or a Facebook or LinkedIn page, this will generally be the easiest place for customers to have a discussion with you. But not always. You have to go where your customers hang out.

Nowadays the idea of having to call a business up for information or a complaint can seem like too much of a hassle. If your customers see you constantly engaged in your Twitter and Facebook pages through your interactions with other customers, they can see how hard you try to satisfy your customers and the value that you’re providing in each and every post.

This is considerably more effective than an automated message at the end of the telephone line or sending your complaint to a ‘no-reply’ email address (GRRRR!). When getting your employees to reply to customers, it’s best to have them add their name at the end of the post. This further emphasizes the personal touch and shows that these are real people responding to you. Yes, people still like to do business with PEOPLE they know, like and trust – always have, always will.

This means that if your business has a social media account, ignoring any complaints is the worst thing you can do – ie: builds a negative social media image. We constantly see what happens in the comments sections of a business’ Facebook page when they ignore, or worse, delete complaints. Once a customer sees that their complaint has been deleted, it’s usually chaos from there. They start commenting in caps lock how their complaint has been deleted and then everyone else starts chiming in. As angry as a customer may seem and as ridiculous as their complaint may be, trying to reply with a helpful response is your best option if you want to avoid a comment flame war. Remember to take feedback seriously, but not so personally. You can win friends and influence people even if they start out cranky (and let’s face it we all have bad days).

The companies with the most interactive Facebook pages are the ones that don’t just post advertisements for their business but also release engaging content and talk to their customers. A business’s Facebook page can assume a personality through the content they release. As silly as it seems, something as simple as a good meme can go a long way. Business’s that post funny, inspirational or educational content can form a connection with their customers, as they perceive a sense of personality from the business.

But keep an eye on the comments of the content you release. Here’s why. There’s a very popular radio station that always releases content on their Facebook page. A lot of the time the content is about particular media personalities or some kind of article along the lines of “weight loss tips from celebrities”. We see this content being released constantly, even though every time it’s released the comment with the most likes goes along the lines of “Don’t get why you keep posting about Kardashians? Really annoying!” or “I think (insert radio station name here) is trapped in the Kardashian web and most are fed-up of hearing anything about them because very few give a hoot.” Or “yes, because starving myself like Christina Aguilera is the best way to lose weight and be healthy. If only I had known not eating nothing at all would solve me problems, thanks (insert radio station name here)”. So perhaps by actually monitoring the comments to see what content people actually like will stop the dreaded “I’m unliking this page” comments.

Of course, if you’d like someone to help you stay above the social radar, build your online community, avoid issues like those we mentioned above and build a social media image that’s consistent with your brand image, we’d be delighted to help. We can show you how it impacts your ability to build revenue (especially if you’re a retail brand that works with your retailers). You can reach us via the number at the top of the screen or drop us a note here.

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