Social media seems like a marketer’s dream come true. It’s one of the few forums where people willingly talk about your brand and products; they reach out to your company, share stories, recommend you to their friends—all without being asked to or paid! No matter how hard you try, that kind of engagement can’t be forced, it just has to happen. Social networking sites are where customers and brands are all on the same playing field and great relationships can be built. However, that level playing field means that customers are just as in control of your brand as you are—what they say and share can drown out your own messaging, and sometimes that’s for the worse.
Social media is a two-way street; it requires a give and take between your company and your network. And that sometimes means taking the bad with the good. Studies have shown that customers are far more likely to share a negative experience with your brand than a positive one on a social networking site, which means when you enter the world of social media you are opening yourself up for attack and criticism. Your brand is now in the hands of your audience, and what they say can have a massive ripple effect around the social world in a matter of moments.
When it comes to social media, there is nothing more deadly than silence. When you aren’t talking, responding to questions, posting content and so forth, the only messaging going out about your brand is what your customers are saying. Hopefully, most of the time this is all positive, but bad news spread fast on social networks and one pissed off customer can quickly morph into a firestorm or negative press. Social media allows people of like interests and opinions to find and connect with one another; what are you doing to make sure your network isn’t connecting over their mutual frustration with your brand!
Above all else, it is so important that companies be open and transparent on social networking sites. The more forthright you are, the easier it is to get the in good graces of your customers. For instance, a few weeks ago FuseMail suffered a major power outage and hundreds (maybe thousands) of their customers went 24-48 hours with email. Twitter exploded with users complaining that FuseMail wasn’t giving them any idea of what was going on, what measures were being taken to fix it or how long until the issue would be resolved. Had FuseMail just kept the lines of communication open during the entire outage, customers would probably have been much more understanding. Keeping quiet cost them a lot of business.
Having a social media presence is essentially in today’s marketplace, but companies need to understand that there are a few dangerous realities they need to account for. At the end of the day, the combined voices of your audience are far more powerful than your brand could ever be, so companies have to be willing to stay open and honest with their network.
About the Author
Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing (http://www.brickmarketing.com) a Boston ares white hat link building and social SEO solutions company. With nearly 13 years of industry experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his B2B SEO knowledge by posting SEO tips to the Brick Marketing Blog and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 150,000 opt-in subscribers.