Small businesses I have worked with are often fearful when it comes to creating social media accounts.
I believe the fear comes from three places: the thought of getting bad reviews, the perceived lack of control over those reviews, and the poor company reputation associated with those reviews.
This guarded position with social networking sites is no doubt a remnant of the Internet of the past.
You see, small businesses have a bad taste in their mouths’ from their experiences with disgruntled customers venting on review sites–which were the predecessor of social networks–in the dawn of social media.
In those early days of reviews sites there wasn’t much a business could do to manage their reputation.
Add in social media’s sometimes-unwieldy reputation, and you have a recipe capable of creating more heartburn than a plate full of spicy meatballs at your favorite local Italian restaurant.
So how do you overcome this fear and proactively manage your social media accounts and reputation?
The answer is surprisingly simple. Here a few steps you’ll need to take to be well on your way:
Social Account Positioning
Just like it’s important to have your business phone number listed anywhere your business name is, it is equally important to have links to your social media accounts there as well. This means you need social account links on your web site, business cards, printed materials, emails, etc.
You never know where your next bad review is going to be posted, but when you funnel those reviews or the support side of your business to your official social accounts, you instantly have more control over the situation—not less—because your customers will contact you there first.
Once you have created a social account that you’re actively promoting, it’s extremely important that you are monitoring those accounts for new activity. Social interactions are especially time sensitive.
You need to know within minutes when someone @mentions you on Twitter or posts to your Facebook Page’s wall so you have more of an opportunity to help them. The sooner you see the posts, the quicker you can respond.
When your customers post to your social accounts, they want a quick response. They want you to acknowledge their concern with a response and present a solution–responsiveness here is key.
Closing the Loop
When you are dealing with a complaint or bad review it’s important that you digitally close it out after you have solved or responded to issue at hand.
In other words, following up the conversation with a genuine response that demonstrates to your audience that that you did what was right, and that you took care of this customer.
“Thanks for thanks for reaching out to us. We’re glad we were able to fix the problem you had. If you have any problems in the future, please let us know.”
Bonus! Claiming Your Business Listing
Claiming your business listing across all the biggest and best review sites creates another opportunity for you to funnel traffic to your social media account.
In addition, you can follow steps 1 through 4 when reading/responding to your reviews on the aforementioned sites.
If you you’d like to discuss this subject further, please post your comments below.