Protecting Your Brand on Social Media

Thanks to social media, grandparents are posting photos on their grandchildren's Facebook pages, shoppers are reading product reviews online before making a purchase, and disgruntled customers are sharing their displeasure with anyone who will read their review.

The benefits of social media to small businesses may be considerable. However, it has introduced potential risks. One of the most critical threats to any business is a negative review. Such  adverse commentary can ruin a business’s reputation, which could be fatal.

How can you protect your business from damaging online attacks? Here are some suggestions:

Social MediaJoin the conversation. If you’ve been visible on social media, you’ll have more credibility if something erupts. However, battling a possible negative comment or two is not the only reason to have a social media presence. Social media has leveled the playing field by offering the opportunity to market and promote your business through direct engage with your customers. The mere convenience of smartphones and tablets make utilizing social media to your advantage effortless. Take the time to know where your clients or potential customers visit and make an effort to engage in conversations or even start one of your own.

Pay attention. Monitor the Internet for news about your brand. Routinely check online review sites (if appropriate) and social networking sites for references to your company. There are programs designed to help you determine when your brand or name is mentioned on social media platforms. Such "brand monitoring" helps you preserve your brand and the light in which people view your organization.

Be prepared. You can’t draft specific responses ahead of time, but you can identify your vulnerabilities and draft a response strategy. You’ll be well ahead of the game if you do this before a crisis strikes rather than during one. You’ll also be able to dial down your emotions and respond more objectively. There’s another upside to identifying your vulnerabilities ahead of time: You have an opportunity to eliminate them.

Respond. Make sure you have the facts straight before you do anything. However, things can escalate rapidly online. So if you’re going to respond, do so quickly and publicly. That said, not every attack warrants a public response. The complaint may not be legitimate or the person complaining may be a troublemaker, in which case responding may be a waste of time.

Social media has opened the door for many businesses to connect with a wide prospect base. While the benefits of social media can be significant there is always a risk. Take the time to research and review your social media strategy. Effectively communicate your stance on handling potential threats to your staff and make sure you have a plan in place before you explore the world of social media.

By: Jessica Sloan, Marketing Manager

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