The social media don't just help people get closer to one another. They also help brands get closer to their customers. While it does benefit businesses to be in touch with their customer base, social engagement tends to be demanding work.
At one time, only businesses in the hospitality industry bothered with building and maintaining an online reputation. Increasingly, though, online reputation building is a necessity across the board. Businesses involved in electronics, telecommunications and even sports need to invest heavily in maintaining a good online reputation today.
Recent surveys show how important a good online reputation is for success in many industries. Of those who look online for reviews before making a purchase, three out of four trust the opinions that their friends and family post on the social networks. Nine out of ten trust reviews from random customers posted on review websites. Online reviews have a role to play in B2B scenarios, too. One out of two people in business search online for information on the people they plan to deal with.
If you have a business to run today you can't ignore the information that appears online about you or your business. You need to learn how to get online and actively manage your reputation.
Your social media reputation can be a powerful SEO agent
Around 2005, when Wal-Mart was constantly in the news for its labor practices, simply searching for the term Wal-Mart brought up negative forum discussions about the retailer on the first page of Google. This can happen to small businesses, too. Google tends to put the freshest content to do with a search term on the first page. If a few customer complaints on a social network or forum are the freshest content that Google can find about your company, these are what will make it on the first page when people search.
To make sure that such complaints don't make it to the first page, you need to have your own social networking presence on every major platform - Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn and so on. You also need to constantly update each network with posts based on the keywords that people generally use when searching for you on Google. To Google, business social network pages have high authority. If someone searches for your company or product, Google will usually offer search results from your own social network posts or your website rather than a forum complaint from someone else.
You need to be on the right social networks
You need to make certain that you have a robust presence on the social network that is popular with your core customer base. For instance, if teens are your main market, social networks like Vine and Tumblr are where you need to be found. If you are a women's clothing company, you need to mainly target Pinterest.
Get as much mileage out of your positive reviews as you can
Unhappy customers are twice as likely as happy ones to go online with a review. To counter this effect, marketing experts such as Yodle.com often urge their clients to work hard at spreading awareness of every positive review that they receive. If someone writes a good review of your product or service, you can reply to them and thank them. Comments with replies from the business are more visible on Google.
You can also try to get your customers to write product reviews on the social networks. If you have a large number of positive reviews, they may make your negative reviews seem insignificant.
Engage customers who write negative reviews
You don't have to quietly put up with the negative reviews you get on the social networks. You can engage them, find out how you can make them feel better about your company and do what's needed. You can turn a complaint into a positive review in this way. This kind of customer engagement can be very impressive to other social network followers looking on, too.
Make sure you listen to your customers on the social networks
The social media offer businesses an important way to learn about what's on their customers' minds. Whether your customers have complaints about long hold times on your company's phone line or the quality of your packaging, you want to be proactive about addressing problems. The more minor complaints you allow to build up against you, the less likely you are to be popular on the social networks.