One of the biggest concerns companies have about venturing onto social media is a fear that detractors, competitors or others who dislike their brand will comment publicly, venting their problem and leaving open the door for a lot of negative viral buzz. Their thinking is that if they aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or any of the other major sites, those naysayers or disgruntled types will have no public venue through which to flog them. The fatal flaw in this strategy is that angry consumers or clients don’t need a homebase through which to damage a company and it’s reputation. They have their own homebase through their individual social media platforms. When a plane is stuck on the runway for more than three hours, hundreds of passengers will take to Twitter with the hashtag #Airlinenamefail or something similar and soon enough thousands will be aware of their plight.
Your brand is what your customers think it is, not what you think it is. So listen, engage, and if the message you want is not the message they’re repeating, alter your strategy.
If a company stays away from social media so as to avoid negative online feedback they will accomplish two things:
- They will be unaware of problems that might have been easily resolved but when left alone may become much bigger problems.
- They will be miss a valuable opportunity to fix minor problems and turn cranky customers into happy evangelizers.
Mashable wrote an excellent post recently sharing three terrific examples of how major brands monitored, managed and resolved (or not) some important brand missteps and criticism.
Bottom line: The conversation about you is going on with or without you. You can only influence it if you are aware of it. Every company should be active on Facebook and Twitter, at the very least, to monitor and influence their brand reputation. Every company should have a google alert set for their key words and get that digest daily. Every company should search their brand name or the name of their current campaign on Twitter daily.