The internet is littered with reputation management tools, but social media tops the list when it comes to quick wins. When properly optimized, your social profiles are ranking powerhouses within search engines. Therefore, establishing and maintaining these accounts can protect your brand’s online reputation from negative press, and helps you put your best foot forward with customers.
Don’t limit yourself to the top five social networks either. Although maintaining a presence on Facebook and Twitter should be your top priority, lesser-known sites within your industry can also rank favorably in Google. You’d be surprised by how many different networks there are to leverage. Here’s a list of over 60, and finding others is easy. Simply Google ‘social networking websites’. If you add a keyword, such as “food” or “pets,” you can narrow down the results even more.
Company websites are usually optimized for traffic and conversions, so social profiles may provide a better opportunity to develop your brand’s online narrative. Also, publishing positive news about your brand is a snap because you manage these platforms yourself.
How to Use Social Media to Manage your Reputation
Social media is powerful, but it isn’t a magic bullet. In other words, you can’t simply register several profiles and expect them to immediately begin ranking on the first page of Google. To maximize the reputation-boosting benefits of social media, you’ll need to do some work to set up your accounts and keep them active.
1. Choose your name carefully
Experts recommend being as consistent as possible when it comes to branding your social properties, but this doesn’t mean that each of your accounts should look like carbon copies. In fact, the opposite is true. Sprinkle some diversity across your profiles to reflect the user base of each platform while keeping your brand’s voice, name and logos consistent. This will help your customers—and Google—identify your social media accounts.
An excellent way to build customer trust is using similar handles across your profiles. However, this may not be possible due to character limitations and username availability. Before deciding on your official handle, make sure you can use it on several social platforms. If someone else already owns the name you want you could make them an offer to buy it or choose something similar.
2. Populate your profile
Your social profile is more than simply a photo and a username. Take full advantage of all fields, including description, location, and contact information. Leveraging these features will boost your legitimacy with users and help Google understand the connection to your brand.
3. Verify your accounts
It’s definitely worth taking time to verify branded accounts if the option is available. Verification informs potential followers that an account is authentic, and it prevents confusion if the owners of similar handles post abusive or negative content. Unfortunately, not all social platforms offer this feature and some only offer verification under certain conditions.
4. Post regularly
As previously mentioned, simply establishing social profiles won’t improve your search landscape. You’ll need to post regularly to show Google that your profile is active and relevant to your brand. Ideally, you should post different content across your profiles, but this isn’t always possible. If you don’t have the resources, or aren’t sure what to post, you can set up automations that share your blog content across all social channels.
5. Train Your Team
It’s often overlooked, but ongoing training is essential to the success of social media reputation management. Complaints often languish in a brand’s feed rather than being addressed. Social media engagement training can prevent this common mistake and even help your team convert angry customers into loyal brand advocates.
A thorough training strategy should also include a plan for handling crises. You’ll need to potentially be prepared for thousands of comments and direct messages across your social accounts during an emergency. It’s wise to train more individuals than you think you’ll need so you can activate them during an emergency. Crisis management training for your entire social team can prevent mistakes that worsen your online reputation and prolong crisis recovery.
6. Monitor activity
The vast majority (96%) of unhappy customers don’t complain directly to brands, but they tell their friends about problems. These “dark complaints” occur when someone posts a negative experience on social media without tagging your brand. If you aren’t actively listening for these mentions, you may be missing out on critical brand sentiment information.
Social listening isn’t something you can do in a few minutes. It requires a dedicated employee or team, depending on the size of your brand and social presence. Fortunately, there are numerous free options to get you started and countless managed services if you have the budget.
7. Respond Professionally
The downside to brand monitoring is finding negative comments about your business. While your gut reaction may be to defend your company, this could actually be a mistake. Properly handling customer complaints takes empathy and understanding.
Never, EVER delete customer posts. It may be unpleasant to leave negative comments on your social feed, but deleting them can turn a few complaints into an angry mob. Silencing users may also cause them to take their stories to the media, which can throw fuel on the social fire already burning.
When responding to criticism, the best approach is to show your followers that you’re listening and you care. Most people who complain aren’t looking for compensation; they simply want to inform others of the bad experience. By training your team to respond in a professional manner, you’ll avoid making situations worse.
8. Tell Your Story
Your social profiles give you an opportunity to share your brand’s positive narrative, so don’t just use them to sell your products and services. Instead, use social platforms to talk about the good things your company is doing.
Here are a few corporate social responsibility examples worth sharing on social media. Others include hiring veterans or providing college reimbursement for employees. Customers love brands that give back, but few companies take the time to promote their philanthropic efforts.
Using social media to monitor brand sentiment, engage with your followers, and promote your company’s social good takes time and resources. However, your investment will result in a shining reputation that boosts sales and shields your brand from future negative press.
To learn more about using social media for reputation management and building brand publicity, check out our classes on the following topics:
Content Marketing for Search Rankings
Creating an Influential LinkedIn Profile
Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.