As somebody involved in online marketing on a daily basis, I’ll be the first to admit that I am biased on the importance of using Social Media as part of your online marketing plan. Having a free, instant and effective communication channel to those interested in your brand is something that marketers should see the value in. However, having a social media accounts for your business isn’t necessary just for the fact they are great for marketing, it’s necessary for brand control.
I’ve seen a lot of local companies that make the decision, actively or not, to stay off of social media all together. I respect that, and understand that not everyone has an employee with the ability, or the interest in marketing to their customers that way. However, they miss a critical point – by not having a social media account, you leave your brand vulnerable on social media platforms. And by this, I see two main threats:
1. Fake accounts misrepresenting your brand.
2. Inability to respond to issues.
Residents of Wisconsin, or those that frequently visit, are familiar with our beer culture. There is one brewery in particular, with an infamous beer (moo) sold only Wisconsin, that every beer drinker knows. It’s delicious and easy-to-drink, and pays homage to our prominent Germanic heritage. In all accounts, this brewery is doing it right.
They are on facebook, with a pretty strong following of well over 100,000 “likes”. They post updates weekly, and are actively engaged and responding to their followers. Great! They are using a facebook business page perfectly! But they don’t just have a facebook account, they have a Twitter account too!
Wait… or do they have a Twitter account?! There is an account on Twitter with their name, a picture of their brewery, and over 11,400 followers. To the average social media viewer, this is their business account. However, if you look at the tweets, you’d begin to notice they aren’t the same “vibe” as their facebook posts. Most of their posts are about how exciting it is that they have so many followers, or random thanking of other Twitter accounts. Then, under the account description, you finally learn that it’s not an official brewery employee, but just a fan.
“Supporter of *** ****** Brewing but yes unofficial! I love Craft Beer & don’t want to see the account lost. *** can have it back anytime. ********beer@gmail”
For the many of thousands of people that interact with this Twitter account, very few probably actually realized that this is not an official company account. Every word they type is a reflection of the brewery’s brand.
Without an official account in place on Twitter, people just make the assumption that this one is legitimate. At it’s worst, the twitter account may say something that tarnishes their brand, but even on the upside, the brewery is missing out on a large opportunity to interact with their brand followers.
Responding to Issues
“But if we have social media, than we are opening ourselves up to customer complaints!” they say… Your customers don’t care, they are already online either singing your praise, or talking smack. But by avoiding social media, you are just not allowing yourself to be apart of the conversation.
Positive or negative, if somebody interacts with your brand online, it’s important for you acknowledge it. A local car dealership in Madison does a great job of managing social media. Every review a customer posts get’s a response from the dealership, good or bad.
The responses on their reviews are unique to each customer, and you quickly get the impression that they take them seriously. By responding to positive reviews, they are actively showing appreciation to their customers who took the time to right a good review. With over 200 active reviews with over a 4 start average, their positive reinforcement is working.
On the flip side, by acknowledging the negative comments, they are helping to ease the fears of prospective customers, by showing them that they run a thoughtful and ethical business. While they may not be able to win over that customer that left the negative review, they dampened the negative impact that the review had on their brand.