How to Use Social Media to Manage Your Small Business’s Online Reputation

menu_3 (1)

Customer service is important for any small business, but there are ways to use social media to go above and beyond what people expect. As hard as you might try, not everyone is going to have a positive experience with your company, so what matters is how you react to bad publicity in order to manage your online reputation. What you say and do is key to how your audience feels about you. There are three great ways to u8se social media to turn a negative into a positive for your business:

Offer Support

According to a study, 58% of Americans would not use a company again after a negative customer service experience. On top of that, 59% of 25-34 year-olds share poor customer service experiences online. This is why good customer service is so crucial to the success of your company. A bad reputation will spread fast and can be hard to shake off, even if you go out of your way to turn things around. The best approach is to never fall into that hole in the first place, which means taking steps to improve customer service and your reputation right now.

Have a Twitter account? If not, it’s time to make one. You might not need to designate an account solely for customer service issues like many big brands do, but the platform is used by 67% of consumers for that purpose, making it a valuable tool for any company looking to build a relationship with their audience.

A strong customer service game will go a long way toward maintaining the goodwill of your audience, as 69% of Americans would recommend a company after a positive customer service experience. If there are two things that customers value the most, it’s expediency in resolving the issue and quick response time. 71% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do, and it’s essential that your audience doesn’t think that they are being ignored. Reach out and resolve issues quickly.

Monitor the Conversation

Just because customers are not tweeting to you directly, doesn’t mean they aren’t saying anything about you. Only about 3% of tweets about brands are actually directed toward them. Social media listening is essentially eavesdropping on the conversations happening on social, and it is a very effective method of staying involved in the conversation and getting ahead of any trends you start to see.

Don’t be afraid to search for your company’s name, look up certain keywords, or check out relevant hashtags on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Accounts like @JetBlue do a good job of providing proactive customer service by reaching out to customers who are talking about them, but might not be talking to them. Committing to social media listening means that you’re always looking for the next problem that needs fixing and addressing issues before they hurt your reputation. Publicly admitting that you listened to what your audience was saying and are now taking the necessary steps to make the appropriate changes, will go a long way toward building goodwill with your customers.

Read the Reviews

If you’re a local business, chances are that customers are leaving you reviews on Yelp and Facebook. Just like customer service on Twitter, it’s important to monitor what customers are saying about your company. Word of mouth is key in the online world, as 79% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and 44% of customers base their decisions around reviews. It’s important that you know how to respond to both the positive and the negative.

A study proved that a one star increase in Yelp rating can lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue for a restaurant. This is why it’s a good idea to reach out and thank customers who leave positive reviews. You also shouldn’t ignore the negative ones, because 33% of negative reviews turn positive when you respond to them. Reach out to these unsatisfied customers, apologize for their bad experience, and figure out a way to turn it into a positive.

Once you’ve responded, it’s best to continue the conversation in private to find out more about the situation and how you can resolve their issues. Privately offer them an incentive to try your product or service again. Even if potential customers don’t see this interaction, just the fact that you answered a negative review will have a positive effect on how they view you. Who knows, maybe the unhappy customer will reevaluate their opinion and write an update on how you fixed everything.

Managing your online reputation is a job that never ends. Your audience’s perception of you will always be in flux, but if you’re serious about customer service, the positives will always outweigh the negatives.