How Social Media Can Degrade Consumer Trust (and How to Counter it)
Modern business advice states that you need a social media presence. There are a ton of books, blogs and expert voices out there saying you need social media, and that you need to scale it so that everyone knows about you. However, when it comes to subsequent downsides of the medium, it seems like these experts disappear.
In this post, we're going to look at some of the potential negative impacts of social, and how it can ruin your business if you aren't careful.
And also, how you can alleviate such concerns with dedicated effort.
Easy to Search Complaints
Do you know what people do when they find a business on Yelp or a product on Amazon? They'll immediately look for negative reviews.
Whether it's a lack of trust in good reviews, or just wanting to rip the band-aid off quickly and see what the negatives are, people want to see bad reviews in order to better inform their decision-making process. It doesn't matter if there are hundreds of great reviews, a handful of bad ones can haunt a business for years.
Social media is similar in this regard.
While there's not necessarily a star indicator, there are posts that are easy to find if someone just spends a few minutes searching your stream or related hashtags - instead of reading about all the great things you're doing, potential customers can tune in specifically to all of your flubs, missteps and overall problems (and every business has them).
Good businesses do their best to mitigate negative press and information by responding to issues and seeking to fix any such problems, but this doesn't always relieve the issue. While it's the best you can do, it's worth remembering that your every problem can be searched and found within seconds.
Information is Everywhere
You'd be hard-pressed to find a company that hasn't messed up something at some point. It could be tiny or it could be massive, but every company, at one time or another, will have to deal with bad press.
Before social media, such issues could be relatively easily contained - at best you'd respond to it, make amends and move on. At worst, you'd bury it and do your best to ignore. That doesn't happen anymore. Not only are your mistakes now easier to find (as noted above), but the problems are also magnified.
First of all, people who don't even know about your business will often discover your mistakes due to the nature of social media. Secondly, people will keep talking about the problem, even going so far as to magnify it or even post articles, videos and memes to further degrade your business for its problems.
People will find out about your bad press. Whether it's big or small, people will find it and call you out for it, and what should be easy to deal can fast become incredibly difficult.
And don't think that burying the information or deleting comments will help, people are prone to taking screenshots to preserve your worst mistakes. Often this burying mentality makes customers more critical of a brand's response.
Fixing the Problem
Yes, social media comes with risks from a marketing standpoint - so how can you limit the potential damage and utilize social platforms to best effect? Here are some tips to help reduce the negative element.
One of the best ways to counter the effects of this maelstrom is to embrace transparency and treat your company more like a person.
Every person makes mistakes, as does every company - and most of the time, people get angry because they feel like nothing is being done. They see that a mistake was made, and they want to ensure that you know about it, and, where possible, that you'll correct it.
Working with this, you should seek to be transparent about potential problems. Don't ignore them and don't give vague reasons as to what caused such issues. Be as open as possible, and let people know that you're aware, tell them exactly how it will be corrected and apologize for the mistake.
This has been proven to be the fastest way to limit the effects of mistakes, and it even has a chance of converting new customers. Such issues can draw a lot of attention, making more people aware of your company. Being transparent reduces losses and can make people look more favorably on your response, which can turn out very well in some instances.
2. Actually Be Personal
Every expert tells will you to make a connection and be personal - but it's often easier said than done.
Many businesses are either robotic in their social communications, or they only mimic human emotion and don't really connect with their audience. In order to fully utilize this element, you have to actually be personal, and at least pretend to care (though actually caring is far better).
The bar is still very low on this front, and it's easy to be better. Understand what your audience cares about, not what your business thinks they should care about. You can do this by listening and paying attention to what they keep bringing up.
This is a rare trait that you can capitalize on in social - focusing on personal relationships and not just numbers will prove much better for your business.
Social media can be great for companies, but there are some huge downsides if you aren't careful. All of your mistakes can be amplified through the Internet, remembered and magnified even further. There is always a level of risk, however you can turn it all around by simply being transparent and building real relationships with your clients, not just canvasing the major social media outlets.
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