By ,Louise Watson-Dowell, Digital Account Director at Definition Agency – a full-service communications agency with specialist expertise in building and managing reputations – discusses the importance of a digital profile in the wake of Covid-19 and how to use social media to manage your reputation effectively.
Many businesses have had to pivot in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, shifting from generating leads at industry events or nurturing contacts at face-to-face meetings, to cultivating fee-generation in online-only spaces, with their digital profile arguably never more important in sustaining them.
Now more than ever, consumers and B2B buyers are spending their time online – researching, buying, watching, posting and communicating. Digital communications have never been so important, as tiers and lockdowns wreak havoc over the interactions and experiences we took for granted BC (Before Coronavirus).
Social media, as a digital communications tool, can deliver speedy and measurable results and be extremely cost effective – and although it may seem daunting, investing some time in communicating with your customers via social media can pay dividends.
There are challenges that can come with setting up and managing social media profiles too, but if you’re confident in your product and have a market for it, these shouldn’t pose a threat worth stalling for.
If you’re looking to build your business with a presence on social media, follow these top tips to get started.
- Decide on the best channel
You might want to show off the quality of your product, so a visual platform like Instagram would work well, while If you have the time for more conversational exchanges with your audience, you might consider Twitter. If you want people to be able to ‘check-in’ and leave reviews or ask questions with an instant private chat function, Facebook is your go-to. If you have the resource you can manage multiple platforms, but you don’t have to – think about who your audience is and the time you have to communicate with them online.
- Be human
You want to look professional online, but customers also like to know there are real people behind a business. Making your social media channels a reflection of you and your brand will help you to come across authentically. Speak in your own voice but be careful to match the tone of your content to your business.
- Make your content useful and entertaining
Think about the reasons you use social media and what content you would respond to. Being useful to your followers will build an engaged audience – share opening times for your business, how people can use your products or services in new or innovative ways, special deals or facts and figures related to what you do. Focus on what your customers might want to know and why they are following you to help you decide what to post.
- Talk to other social media users
Look for other local organisations that have similar target audiences and markets to yours and talk to them – follow them and leave comments or replies on their posts and use hashtags to join ongoing conversations. Retweet and repost relevant content from others on social media and look for opportunities to feature them in your posts. You can measure your success against your follower numbers, and how much engagement your posts generate, as you will find their audience becomes your audience too.
- Don’t be afraid of feedback
How you deal with feedback is just as important in managing your reputation as getting it. If a customer isn’t satisfied with the service or product you’ve provided, don’t be tempted to respond defensively or negatively online, as this will only reflect badly on you. Try to make sure you have a procedure in place to reply and investigate poor customer feedback and communicate this with the person leaving you a negative comment or review in the same forum. Be open with them about your operations, apologise where appropriate and offer what you feel is a fair reimbursement. It’s difficult for consumers to continue to respond negatively if you make steps to diffuse the situation, and if they do, you likely wouldn’t be able to placate them no matter what you offered.
Investing time in building a presence on social media channels can be daunting, however, the potential benefits far outweigh the negatives, with platforms enabling your biggest fans and brand advocates to share your content far wider than you could on your own.