7 Ways to Avoid PR Disasters on Social Media

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If you own a business, no doubt you also have company social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other major sites. A strong social media presence isn’t optional these days. Customers will be looking up your business online, and once they’ve visited the website you’ll need a way to pull them in and interest them in learning more about the company. A Facebook or Twitter profile allows you to interact regularly with customers and share news, promotions and special offers. This offers potential clients a more intimate look at the entire organisation, while one-time buyers who follow you on Facebook are much more likely to become repeat customers.

Social media presence isn’t without its pitfalls, however. An open, public conversation with customers has the potential to go drastically awry and become a PR nightmare if it isn’t handled properly. The growing importance of social media in business means entrepreneurs need a whole new skillset and sometimes a new department as well. Social media isn’t a part time job. Newsfeeds are active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and comments can be posted at any time of the day or night.

Here are seven tips to improve your business’s social media activity:

  • Commit to Regular Posting – Patchy or intermittent social media activity can be worse than none. If you go too long without sharing new content, followers will stop checking the page. They may even question whether the business still exists. Post content that is informational and useful to customers, as well as being positive about the company.
  • Interact with Followers - Respond to every comment, especially those that ask for more information about a product or service. A detailed, personalised description of how the product works, or how to fix a specific issue will not only make the writer feel they are being listened to, it will be available for other followers to read. This type of natural advertising can be much more effective than too many promotions which will seem to be all about you rather than your clients. Even the most routine comments deserve a short thank-you or a note of appreciation so followers know you appreciate what they have to say.
  • Set the Tone – Customers want to feel like they’re communicating with real people who really run the business. The exact tone of your responses will depend on the type of clientele you want to appeal to. Is your average customer young and hip, or middle-aged and conservative? The most successful social media accounts have their own personal style which customers come to know and appreciate. This may depend largely on your personality, especially if you already have some experience with social media, but it’s a good idea to sit down with a professional team and set guidelines. As the company grows, responses will ultimately be written by multiple people.
  • Own Up to Mistakes – Even with a talented team, the chances are you’ll eventually make a judgement error and post something which is offensive to someone. Words can often be taken out of context and interpreted in ways you hadn’t foreseen. When this happens, it’s best to admit the mistake honestly and apologise. Making excuses, or trying to justify your viewpoint is likely to attract more negative attention and compound the problem. Followers will respect you more if they see you are able to concede gracefully and admit that you are wrong.
  • Avoid Spelling Errors – Misspelled words matter on a business page. Spelling errors make you look unprofessional and can even change the meaning of the content. If the result is funny or shocking, you might even find yourself famous for the wrong reasons, as a viral internet meme. To avoid this, add a spell checker directly into your browser so everything you post will be automatically scanned. Make sure everyone writing for the company account understands your expectations in terms of grammar and spelling.
  • Triple Check Posts – Even the best spell checker is no substitute for human eyes. Ideally, content should be screened by multiple people from different backgrounds before it is posted. This can help to avoid offending people who may have a different viewpoint than you. Set up a system that allow content to be written and screened efficiently so posts can still occur in a timely manner.
  • Don’t Get Hacked – All your efforts will come to nothing if your account is compromised and hackers start posting material to your followers’ pages. A security breach will hurt the entire company, since customers will doubt your efficiency in other areas as well and question whether it’s safe to share their personal data. Make sure the company’s social media accounts have strong, complex passwords designed to stop hackers rather than be memorable for employees. Write down the password and store it physically in a safe place rather than on the computer. Access should be shared among a limited group of people who have training on internet security and know the importance of protecting passwords. Use anti-malware software on all your computers and run regular security scans to check for problems.

The best way to build a strong social media presence without creating a PR disaster is to work with a professional reputation management team. Contact Reputation Defender to learn more about how we can help.

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Posted on 15 May 2018 by Tony McChrystal