Here is another article that, by glancing at the title, immediately caught our eye. For any business, small or large, social media is becoming a part of the greater marketing picture. Whether or not you use it is your choice. If you do, here are some tips on how to do it right. This article was written with language specifically tailored to a corporate company, but that doesn’t change the overall message.
Thank you to Mashable.com for the consistent interesting and educational content.
If there’s one thing that keeps social media marketers up at night, it’s the ever-present threat of a PR disaster. By now, every marketer is well-aware of how quickly dissatisfied consumers can turn to the social airwaves to vent about a brand. Nestle, BP, Domino’s, Southwest Airlines, and many other brands have witnessed the unbridled power of social media as a platform for disgruntled consumers to rally around an anti-brand cause.
You can never fully “control” what your customers say about your brand on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and forums — nor would you want to. After all, the biggest benefit of social media is to allow your customers to express their opinions and talk about your products and services among themselves, creating a loyal fan base that spreads the word about your brand to their friends and family. However, there are several actionable strategies you can take to avoid — or circumvent — a negative PR storm about your brand online.
Here are five tips to give your brand the best possible chance at avoiding a social media PR debacle, and strategies for quickly handling problems if they arise.
1. Create a Social Media Policy/Community Management Plan
Every brand participating in social media should have a clear policy and community management plan in place. Map out crucial “Terms of Service” such as:
What’s not tolerated in conversations about your brand. Things like foul and abusive language, threats against individuals, hateful speech, flame comments about products or services, and similar comments are best handled as strictly forbidden. Make sure this plan maps to the Terms of Service for each channel in which you are active, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or YouTube, all of which have their own guidelines on unacceptable content.
Hire a community manager or qualified agency partner who monitors your brand’s entire social media presence on the web. Your lead community manager should be in constant contact with the PR and marketing departments, and have clear escalation lines to the customer support team for hot-button issues. The community manager should not only monitor and manage your branded communities in Facebook, Twitter, and corporate blogs, but also use social media monitoring tools to find out where else your brand is being discussed online, such as third-party blogs and forums.
The community manager should work with the executive and PR teams to decide who will respond to which type of comments. High-level “red alerts” need to be handled by a top executive, preferably someone both knowledgeable and accountable to your customer base. The PR team should, of course, be integral in crafting all outbound communications, but in rapid-response situations it’s best to have a key executive who’s already provided his or her willingness to be accountable and available.
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