One of the biggest appeals of social media is the informal chat-like engagement and instantaneous thoughts. But for businesses and professionals this is uncharted waters, as their customer relationship management usually involves well-thought out material, which has had input from a number of creatives and marketeers. For small business, it’s an opportunity to connect more personally with clients, as the personnel behind the service or product is probably closer to the core business. But where small enterprises score points on personality and passion, they can fall into unprofessional traps on social media. It’s essential to think before you click!
The gaff a few months ago by Louise Mensch on social media is proof enough that you must think carefully on what to post publicly before you press send. Intent on sending a clear message to her followers about a politician from an opposition party, she shared an image in a post on Twitter of what she thought were common searches for one of the Labour leader contenders. As it happens, the search only exposes her own history which provoked hilarious responses pointing our her technical error. What was almost worse, is she took a photo of her screen and shared; she didn’t even screenshot it which looked shabby and unsophisticated.
I was recently tagged by a small business for a message that was clearly inappropriate for our channel. The person had not researched our feed and the style of content we post. Furthermore her post was rather insensitive and person-shaming. The first rule in this situation? Take the conversation off-line. Don’t be tempted to have a public slanging match. I managed to contact the lady and asked her to remove the tagged tweet. She doesn’t have to but I explained my reasons. As she’s a small business starting out, she actually appreciated the feedback. We are now working together on collaborative posts with positive messages aligned to the editorial style of my website.
Together, social media can be a special space. But you risk to damage your reputation if you don’t think before you click. Even if you feel you are being true to your brand, you need to evaluate the long term impacts to your reputation. Such as the CEO of Protein World who stood by his tweets responding to criticism over their ‘beach body ready’ campaign. Despite some complaints being dismissed by the ASA they will alienate potential future markets why may wish to expand into with their attitude towards their marketing.
Top tips for positive social media engagement:
1. Prepare some responses based on enquiries you get regularly e.g. for Twitter ensure they are 140 characters. Include a couple of response to potential negative feedback.
2. Before responding to any comments received over social media, check the person’s profile or feed (if possible) see what kind of social media interactions they regularly engage with. i.e. if they persistently target companies with negative feedback understand you may not get a positive outcome you enter a discussion (think about how to respond and close it down).
3. Unless it’s intrinsically part of the your brand or service, steer clear of controversial topics or passing opinion on topics unrelated to your business. e.g if you’re a supplier of eco-friendly products then political developments around the environment may interest your readers.
4. Don’t engage in social media disputes, especially if they are getting personal.
5. Before responding to any interaction, ask yourself, ‘what do I want to get out of this for my business?’