Reputation Management and Social Media
As you incorporate social media into your business operations, tread carefully. It is true that you need to have a presence in the social media world, and launching a social media campaign will open doors to further growth. However, there are also risks involved, and they are much different from the risks you face with traditional media.
For one thing, the viral nature of social media can take a small incident and quickly blow it out of proportion with countless other users. For another, the democratic nature of social media means anybody with a wifi hookup, and a computer or smartphone, can publish whatever he wants whenever he wants. What you and your employees post should be closely monitored too, since it could be grabbed and sent around the web in the blink of an eye. Therefore, it’s important to educate yourself about the impact social media could have on your businesses reputation, and plan how to keep that impact positive and follow it.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Develop a social media reputation plan.
Traditionally, anyone starting a business is advised to spend plenty of time and resources on an overall business plan to cover things such as finances, humans resources, legal issues, traditional marketing/advertising strategies and the like. Now, that traditional business plan should include both the social media plan (how the company will use social media) and a social media reputation plan.
The latter should cover who is in charge of managing the company’s reputation on social media, who will represent the company by posting and engaging with the community, how the company will promote a good reputation, how it will monitor its reputation and what it will do to respond to crises that could threaten its reputation.
2. Designate a social media manager (or community manager).
Whoever is chosen needs training and a policy manual for this specialized form of media. See the earlier chapter on Community Management for more information. Alternatively, consider contracting with an outside firm to handle your social media needs. There are many small companies that solely offer social media management and reputation protection services, making their expertise valuable. With time, an outside firm could train your staff to take over this responsibility.
3. Create a crisis team.
Just like any public relations gone bad, if your company’s name is suddenly sullied in the social media world you need to respond quickly and thoughtfully. You can only do that if you have a plan for how to respond, and you designate trained people, who can drop what they are doing, to handle the crisis.
These team members will need training on how social media works, what the company’s plans and policies are, what specific steps should be followed in a crisis, and how to turn the crisis around.
Because social media operates in real time, it’s crucial that this team responds immediately, within the hour, to prevent a small problem from becoming a huge one tweeted to thousands of people.