The One-Two Punch: Print and Social Media Marketing

One-Two Punch

In today’s world, there is a huge focus on social media and Internet marketing.  While the Internet has definitely made it possible for businesses to connect in new ways with clients and customers worldwide, the Internet has not totally replaced traditional print marketing, nor should it.

Social media marketing should not be a stand-alone tool, but instead you should have multiple different marketing channels that are available to you and that you work to seamlessly integrate.  Print marketing and social media marketing, for example, can go hand-in-hand in order to reach the most customers and potential customers.

 

How Print Marketing and Social Media Marketing Can Complement Each Other

Print marketing and social media marketing can integrate in many important ways as long as you have a clear marketing approach that you take across all of your different marketing channels.

Some of the different ways that print marketing can complement your social media marketing include the following:

  • Allow participation in contests in social media that can result in real-world prizes that someone can enjoy. For example, you could run a contest so that everyone who follows you on Twitter or who re-tweets something you post is entered to win a great promotional item from your company.  Promotional products are great advertising because when people use a product with your brand on it, this spreads the word about your brand and company to others. A social media contest to win a promotional product gives you lots of bang for your marketing buck because you generate buzz when people enter (and talk about entering) the contest AND you get the benefit of giving someone a promotional product that can be used. You can purchase such prizes from a company like Quality logo Products out of Aurora.
  • Include hashtags and an easy newsletter signup on all print media that you distribute.  Whenever you send out a direct mail marketing piece, provide a print brochure or otherwise give someone print materials about your company, you should be sure to include hashtags that can invite people to visit your social media channels and talk about the product. You can also include all of your information on websites as well as social media channels and user names (like your Twitter handle) so that people who see your print material can quickly and easily find you online.  Those who receive your print material can then visit you on social media as well.  Be sure to make your social media names representative of your company and simple and easy to remember in order to encourage more people to visit your sites.
  • Build a database of potential customers through both print and social media. When someone obtains print material from you, ask for that person’s email address to be added to your online mailing list using a service like Mail Chimp.  When you get someone’s email address, you can then contact them over the Internet and invite them to follow you on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites.  Likewise, if you are running a contest for those who follow you on social media, consider asking for a physical address (to be kept private, of course, not publicly shared on Facebook or otherwise on social media).  When you get the physical address of a customer or potential customer, this makes it possible for you to send print material.
  • QR CodesUse QR Codes.  QR codes can integrate online and local ads by making it easy for people to access your digital information. A QR code included on print material can allow people to connect with you digitally in a very simple and easy way. For more information on generating and using QR codes, click here.
  • Include social media mentions on print material. If you send out marketing material or newsletters in print, you can include things that people have said on social media about your company. These statements act as a reference, and those receiving the print material may become curious and sign onto social media to learn more about what people are saying about your company.

These are just a few of the key ways that you can integrate print marketing and social media marketing. There are many different approaches to take and the right choice is going to depend upon your specific business model. However, you should not assume that since social media marketing seems to be the wave of the future that it is the only kind of marketing you should do.

A comprehensive marketing plan should include social media marketing, email marketing, a great company website, and print materials. You will have multiple ways to connect to clients and customers, won’t have to worry as much about losing trust because of a change in email address or because of a move, and you can offer content and information that people appreciate in multiple formats. This just makes good business sense.

The Social Media Resolution

Social Media Resolution

Let’s keep this one short and sweet. If you run a business, you fall into one of four categories:

  1. Those who are using social media and seeing mixed or minimal results
  2. Those who have used social media in the past and stopped because they saw mixed or minimal results
  3. Those who have never really bought into social media
  4. Those who are killing it on social media

It’s easy for me to say that the last option is the one that just about every business should be striving towards, but the reality is that if everyone was in category four, it would actually mean that everyone was in category one. Despite the vast nature of social media, there is still a finite amount of room on news feeds, Twitter streams, and other visible portions of social media for businesses. It’s for this reason that I am glad most fall into the first three categories – it makes my job for clients much easier.

With that said, there definitely needs to be more in the last category and the likely reason that there aren’t is because so many fall into the second category. Whether on your own or through a vendor/guru hack, you’ve lost faith in social media. That was actually okay in 2012. It became less okay in 2013. In 2014, successful businesses will make it into category four or they’ll find it harder to keep their status as a “successful business”. Everything is migrating to include social as a major component. If you rely on organic search to drive traffic to your site, for example, you may will soon find that your traffic is dropping if it isn’t already. Google and Bing are betting high on social and they’re leaning towards social signals and page/profile quality as major components of their algorithm.

Search is just the start. This is the part that amazes me the most. There are local businesses that are spending thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars on digital advertising every month but they can’t seem to justify a couple thousand dollars to dedicate to a killer social media presence and integrated search engine optimization components. It’s the most trackable, tangible form of digital advertising and marketing – the smoke and mirrors required to try to prove value are gone (at least for some vendors/gurus). Make it real or go home – that’s what we’re faced with today.

In 2014, make it a priority to re-evaluate your position. Take a pitch or two. Read some blog posts. This isn’t about buying into a trend, though that alone should be pretty obvious. It’s about reading the writing on the wall – I see so many individuals who are active on social media, yet are unable to see the value of social media for their business. It’s not your fault. You simply haven’t been shown the real deal.

Find the real deal about social media. Your business success may depend on it.

Criminals Use Social Media Too

Criminal

The Internet has transformed crime. Many criminals today use the Internet to commit crimes such as cyber stalking and identity theft. Many people post a lot of personal information on their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Privacy is often not respected when people surf online.

Now, criminals can hack into Facebook and Twitter accounts and retrieve personal information about people. More than 80% of crimes that are committed online involve the usage of social media websites. Privacy concerns have been aired for several years regarding this issue but people still post personal photos, birth dates, email addresses and other information on their profile and news pages. This information can be used against people very easily.

Young children who use social media sites can become victims of sex crimes. This is why people need to protect themselves online. For example, people should never post that they will e going on vacation. If people know that a house will be unoccupied for a period of time then burglars could learn this through social media and commit a crime.

Statistics have shown that 20% of people have been a victim of online crime. This figure could increase as time goes by. More than one million people each day become victims so it is crucial for people to keep their online profiles private and only share basic information with their friends and followers. The world has changes a great deal since the personal computer was invented. People have to change their mind sets so that they do not become a victim.

Criminal Social Media Infographic

Infographic provided by instantcheckmate.com

Why Businesses Are Still Being Left Behind When it Comes to Social Networking

Left Behind

There can be no denying that social networking is something that is growing – more internet users than ever are now using social media on a daily basis. When you consider the size of social media you would assume that businesses are on the mark when it comes to social media campaigns and keeping in touch with their customers via social networking, but sadly for many their efforts still do not cut the mustard.

A Few Social Media Stats

  • When asked, over 60% of people said they would be more likely to buy from a brand they follow on a social networking website.
  • Facebook is the biggest social media website – if you added up all of its users and put them in a country to live together, it would be the third largest country in the world.
  • Within 80 days of it being released 50m people were the owner of an iPad – it took nearly 40 years for the same number of people to own a radio.
  • On YouTube the equivalent of 500 years of videos are watched every single day!

These stats show that social networking and the internet is growing – which is reason enough for companies to get on board and get involved. However, not only are more customers getting involved in social media but they’re getting more comfortable with it.

Gone are the days when a customer would write you a letter if they were unhappy with your service, now you’re likely to get an angry tweet or a long letter on Facebook. Their anger and unhappiness is the same as it always was, but now everyone else gets to hear about it too! We all know that word of mouth travels fast – so you want to be on the mark and dealing with customer complaints on social media because otherwise you could quickly find the situation growing to one that is much more serious.

Did you know that fashion brand ASOS have more followers than David Cameron?

ASOS are a brand that is renowned for their social media efforts. If you see their Twitter you’ll notice that they always reply to customers promptly – often with fun and witty replies, which help to keep customers interested! They have a specific twitter account which is designed to deal with customer issues and problems and they’re always quick and efficient when it comes to dealing with any tweets that customers send.

The fact that a fashion brand has more followers than the UK’s Prime Minister is a pretty big deal. It goes to show that they are on the money when it comes to dealing with social media & that their hard work has paid off. With so many followers on one account, their influence on Twitter is massive!

Companies are Still Being Left Behind

While companies like ASOS are coming on leaps and bounds with their social networking there are still companies that are being left behind. The problem with this is that we live in a social media generation – people are used to being able to get in touch with companies immediately and expect quick replies, companies not doing this are doing themselves an injustice and will get left behind if they’re not careful.

Making Use of Different Social Media Platforms

Generally the two main social media websites are Facebook and Twitter, but that doesn’t mean they are all you should use! Instagram is growing at a rate of knots and more Snapchat messages (350 million WOW!) are sent daily than anything else. There are different social networking websites out there to make use of – Pinterest is good if you have a crafting business and LinkedIn is great for interacting with other business owners and getting on board with local people.

The Mistake Many Businesses Make

The biggest mistake you can make is trying to have all of your eggs in one basket. If you’re going to be on a social networking website then you need to do it well. One of the worst things you can do is start up a social media profile on a website, do a couple of updates and then never coming back to it. Just because you have forgotten that you have an Instagram account (for example) that doesn’t mean that your customers will have. It is far better for them not to find you on Instagram than them finding a profile you have left behind – because this will give them the impression that you do not care.

So to Conclude

So, we now know how massive social media is. The influence that social media has over people is huge and as a business, if you are not tapping into this then you are missing out massively! Instead you need to make sure that you are doing what you can to be involved in it – and not leaving your customers wondering why you do not care.

Moving forward you need to make sure you have a clean-up of social media accounts that you already have. If you tried a social media website and didn’t like it – find it again and delete the account. It is far better for your customers not to be able to find you on a website rather than finding a social media profile that has been made redundant.

You then need to think about the type of social network you want to be on and how you can get involved. Whether this is setting up a page on Facebook or getting involved in tweeting on Twitter you’ll find loads of ways to get involved and hints and tips on how to make the website work for you and your needs.

Communicating with your customers is key – so make sure that once you are on social networking websites you use this to reply to your customers and interact with them when you can – you’ll notice it makes a massive difference!

Are You Using Facebook Ads to Generate New Sales Leads for Your Business?

Facebook Ads

You should be. It’s easy.

This article will discuss optimizing your Facebook Ads for capturing leads. I’ll give you ten best practices on optimizing your ads for engagement, and then focus on lead capturing strategies – and why Facebook Ads’ targeting tools are changing the way we’re generating leads online.

Let’s get started.

 

Optimizing your Facebook Ad for Engagement

Let’s get this over with so we can get to the good stuff. If you’re not already implementing these ten strategies below, do it now, and watch your Facebook Ad click-through-rates increase.

Image best practices:

  • Pictures of people (specifically a smiling, wholesome woman) generate more engagement than anything else
  • Pictures of animals and babies take 2nd and 3rd
  • Odd-looking or humorous images cause Facebook users to do a double-take, increasing their chance of reading your headline or body copy text
  • Avoid complex images. Keep it simple and devoid of text

Headline Best Practice:

  • The word ‘free’ and dollar values work to grab the eye of Facebook users
  • Focus on attracting the eye, let your body copy convince the user to click

Color and Detail Best Practice:

  • Avoid blues and whites as they’ll cause your ad to blend into the existing Facebook color scheme
  • Use red, green and orange: bright colors that attract the eye. Red encourages click-through as it makes the heart beat faster (giving the illusion that time is passing faster than it is). This encourages people to act impulsively
  • Don’t be afraid of borders. If your ad’s landing page image is blue, keep the same image, but throw a colorful border around it
  • Details, like borders, shadows (even increasing the green and yellow gamma on your image) have proven to increase click-through-rates. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

 

Lead Capture with a Contest or Landing Page

Okay, on to the fun stuff.

Integrate your Facebook Ad with a corresponding contest or landing page to generate qualified leads. Use the ad to get them interested (with an awesome value proposition, CTA, and image) and a solid landing page (with USP, image and list of benefits) focused on the email generating call-to-action.

Contests

Contests are a fantastic way to generate qualified, valuable leads, provided you optimize them intelligently and offer the right prize.

Choosing a prize is about finding the happy medium between putting your business out of… business, and offering something nobody wants.

I recommend gift cards. No, they’re not the sexiest thing ever, but they work. A gift card allows you to promote your business as a whole. Anyone interested in any of your products will engage – and only people interested in your products.

Yes you’ll get results with a cash prize or an iPad, but I strongly recommend not doing this. You will, of course, generate a bunch of leads, but how long do you think they’ll stay subscribed to your email list after the contest is over?

A gift card ensures the people who enter your contest are actually interested in what you’re selling. Ask yourself, do you want 1000 leads who have a 2% chance of converting, or 500 leads who have a 10% chance of converting? (For those who hate math, the answer is 500…)

Landing Pages

Traffic Facebook users to a landing page optimized for lead generation. This means offering a reward for the lead, like an ebook or a white paper.

Ebooks are a great way to generate leads. Your business is probably already generating content (you should be, if you’re not). Compile this content, whether it’s a blog article, case studies, or a how-to-guide on balancing your own checkbook, and email-gate it.

Email-gating is simply requiring a visitor to your landing page to provide an email address before getting access to your awesome content. Your landing page should be built around selling this content.

Remember, you’ll get better click-through if your unique selling proposition (USP), value proposition, and image are the same in your landing page as they are in your Facebook Ad.

A/B Test both Facebook Ad and landing page to see what strategies work best for your target audience.

 

Targeting an Audience of Awesome Leads

Facebook Ad targeting is what makes Facebook Ads worth doing – it’s what makes the ROI make sense for small businesses. Facebook Ads can be targeted with a previously-unheard-of specificity. I’m talking targeting an ad at Facebook users who have just sold a used truck. Or targeting not only people in a relationship, but people at different stages of their relationship, or who have just gotten engaged, or who are doing long distance.

Target your Facebook Ad intelligently and you could be seeing a CTR of .1% or higher. Don’t target it and don’t be surprised when you’re getting .02.

For lead generation, we don’t want to target Facebook users by their car-history. Instead…

Target by lookalike audience

  • Import a contact list of current customers, leads, or previous contest entries from your CRM or database
  • Create a lookalike audience, in which the characteristics of your original list are matched with Facebook users who have never met your business
  • Target your Facebook Ad at this audience of people similar to those you know are interested in your product, service, or offers

Targeting by lookalike audience not only increases Facebook Ad CTR (as its made up of people very much like your existing customers) it also gives you a valuable, qualified list of leads more likely to convert in the future.

 

Target by Precise and Broad Category Interest

If you’ve already gone the lookalike audience route, or are looking to change up the details of your business leads (going from small business to middle, or CEO to marketing manager, for instance), target by Precise or Broad Category Interest.

Let’s say you’re using an email-gated ebook (on A/B Testing) for lead generation.

 

Targeting Facebook users by Precise Interest could look like this:

Specific Interests

Provided you’re targeting all english-speaking countries, and your spend budget is set at a maximum of $20 dollars/day, you can expect around 50 qualified clicks. If your landing page is optimized (let’s say at a 20% conversion rate – which is reasonable if you A/B test well and put some time into it) you can expect at least 10 qualified leads each day.

Let’s say you’re using a contest (giving $250 in maternity and baby supplies to new mothers) to generate new leads.

 

Targeting Facebook users by Broad Category Interest could look like this:

Broad Interest

You could also target women with a 0-3 year old baby. This means your ad is only seen by your target audience. The leads you’ve generated (perhaps for an upcoming push into the maternity sector) are perfect for an email marketing and lead nurturing campaign in the coming months.

And once you’ve generated this list of leads, do a lookalike audience on it and start all over again.

 

Conclusion

Hopefully you have a better idea of how to use Facebook Ads to generate leads online. Targeting well ensures your leads are the kind you want. Compare the rate we worked out above with what a lot of lead generating companies charge, and see if this isn’t awesome.

Have you had success, or frustrations, with Facebook Ads? Start the conversation below.

3 Ways a Small Business can Make Money on Social Media

Money

For the majority of the last decade, social media was viewed by businesses as a frivolity; something they would dabble in to appease their devoted customer base.  However, with Social Media becoming ubiquitous in our lives through cell phones, tablets, and desktops, companies are beginning to realize that there are effective ways of monetizing their social media presence.

The caveat to making money on social media is that businesses can face a backlash from their followers if they abuse their social followings with too much monetization or they are solely interested in monetizing.

Thus, a balance has to be struck.  Businesses must still engage with their customers and give them value for following them.  And when they do attempt to monetize, they should do it in a tactful way, as to not alienate their followers.

1. Hidden Specials

A great tactic that can be used to monetize a social media following is the hidden special or promotions.  A hidden special is one that is wrapped into an otherwise normal and engaging post.  For instance, a company could post a caption competition on their Facebook page.  They could ask for their followers to come up with the funniest caption to a photo of a cat.  Then, the winners would be rewarded with a 30% off coupon.

These competitions are similar to my children’s’ soccer league, everyone wins and everyone gets a trophy.  Regardless of whether the caption is considered the funniest or not, the business could send a private message to all participants containing a 30% off coupon.

2. Focus Grouping

Another indirect way a small business can monetize a social media following is through focus grouping their followers.  Often times, small business owners create specials or sales based on their gut feelings or seasonal trends.  But, wouldn’t it be great if they knew exactly what their customers wanted to purchase, and then place those items on sale.

By simply creating a poll and asking their followers which products they wished were on sale, a small business owner would take the guess work out of sales and optimize their promotions.  Also, as a bonus, once those items are on sale, the business owner could private message the poll participants to let them know that their desired products are now on sale, creating instant sales.

3. Social Only Specials

The easiest way to gain followers and make a small business’ current followers feel valued is to offer social only specials.  These are specials that require a code or coupon in order to be claimed.  That code or coupon is delivered via social media to the company’s loyal followers.

By advertising these social only specials on the website and in the store, a small business will grow their social media followers, and give them a feeling of exclusivity.  Pretty soon, the customers will begin talking to their friends about the exclusive deals and the social media following will grow through a grass roots campaign.

There are literally hundreds of other ways a small business can tactfully monetize their social media followings.  Let us know some of your own methods in the comments below.

Dealing With Online Trolls As A Businessperson

Internet Trolls

Internet trolls have become unavoidable, no matter what kind of website you have or what industry you’re in. Trolling is basically making a comment that’s designed to make people upset and get a reaction out of them. Most of the trolls I’ve noticed make anonymous posts and comments, but they sometimes make their identity known.  As a businessperson, you don’t want to come across as being aggressive with anyone, customers and non-customers alike.

No matter how much an online troll can frustrate you, you always have to keep your composure and take the higher ground when dealing with them, otherwise you risk ruining your brand and your online reputation. So what else should you do when dealing with trolls?

Remember What They Want

Just like your customers, you have to remember that trolls want something, and that something is a reaction. Trolls will use any means necessary to elicit a reaction either from you or your customers or your readers if you have an online blog. The limits they can go to to stir the pot can be quite shocking, but don’t give them what they want.

While you can ban them or delete their comments, who’s to say that they won’t make up a new profile just so they can continue with their malicious attack? This is why it’s important that you learn to properly deal with them rather than simply delete their harmful comments or ban them.

Ignore Them

Instead of deleting troll comments or banning them, you can simply ignore them and tell your other readers or customers to do the same thing. The moment you engage with them is the moment they really start to set their sights on you. While it’s always a good policy to always respond to comments about your products or services, be they good or bad, online trolls are the exception. Don’t give them the reaction or attention that they’re aiming for and they’re sure to move on.

Don’t Take Things Personally

While it might not seem like it, Internet trolls aren’t attacking you personally. I don’t know what makes people want to scour the Internet in search of innocent prey that they can use to unleash hateful and rude comments on, but I do know that it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Should you ever encounter trolls on social media, never think that their comments mean that something is wrong with your products or services. Again, it has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you or your business.

Report Them

Even if you do ban a troll you should still report them so that they don’t keep up with their foolish behavior with other individuals on the same social media site. You should also report them if you’re ever unable to ban them from your social media platform. Make it difficult enough for them to engage anyone in conversation and eventually they’ll move on from the social media site entirely, making things better for you and everyone else.

Laugh About It

Instead of getting angry or frustrated whenever you encounter a troll, have a good laugh about it. Here you are trying to better your life and run a business while other individuals have nothing better to do than make nasty comments. Which of you is actually making something of your life? In fact, maybe you should be flattered that out of all of the other businesses out there they decided to leave a rude comment on yours. You must be doing something right to receive such an honor.

No matter how big or how small your business is, there’s always a chance that you’ll become the next victim of trolling. Learn how to deal with them now so that you can make all of the right moves when/if it happens and so that you can get back to your business as soon as possible.

Source

How to Handle Complaints on Social Media

Social Media Complaints

There’s a rule when it comes to handling complaints and bad reviews on social media. The same rule applies for compliments and good reviews, but those are easy. Handling the complaints can be challenging and you may not want to do it, but as a rule you must reply to everyone who is talking to you publicly whether it’s good or bad.

This is an absolute rule. There are a couple of extreme situations when you don’t reply, but they are so rare that I hesitate to mention them for fear that it could downplay the message that you should reply to everyone.

There’s another rule that is unfortunately getting broken just about every day by many social media and reputation management companies. Canned responses should never be used. Every response should be personal, written by an actual human and not repeated. It’s better to make a short, sincere response than anything that came out of an automated system. People can tell. You will never appear more insincere as a company than when you reply to someone talking to you on social media with a form letter.

In this infographic by Pardot, we have a chance to take a look at five of the most prominent “complainer types” on social media. If you can identify the category that a complainer falls into, you’ll have a better opportunity to handle it appropriated. One does not have to be a psychologist to understand personality types. You just have to open your eyes and ears before opening your mouth.

Social Media Complaints Infographic

5 Practical Social Media Tips You Can Use for Your Business

Silver Bullet

Now that we’ve inhabited the Web 2.0 world for a while, social media marketing has earned its rightful place in company marketing plans. Since the proliferation of social networking sites in the early 2000s, social media marketing has catapulted from a mere option to a key factor for businesses of all sizes.

Today, more and more small businesses and large brands are taking advantage of various platforms’ power and influence, with stats and case studies to justify their usage.

Here are five tips for business owners and entrepreneurs who are willing to tap into the marketing heft of social media marketing.

1. There’s no silver bullet

Just because the term “social media marketing” has huge buzz, doesn’t mean it’s a cure-all. As with other essential components of effective marketing plans, you need to invest time and energy not only from a strategic perspective, but also on a day-by-day tactical level.

It’s not enough to say you’ve hired someone to handle social media marketing. As a business owner, you need to equip that individual with the tools to do the job properly, and not become frustrated if you don’t see results overnight. The process is labor-intensive and requires motivation and guidance from the senior level of a company, on an ongoing basis.

2. Build your social network traffic

Businesses nearly double their online traffic after they pass 1,000 Facebook likes; and they generate more than 100 percent more web traffic if they have a minimum of 51 to 100 followers on Twitter versus those with 25 or fewer.

With regard to consumer purchases, most online users rely on social media to guide their buying decisions, or purchase a product or service on a recommendation. Most social media users are also more likely to buy a product or pay for a service with a firm that’s connected with all the major social networks.

In addition, LinkedIn business pages have the most number of generated customers, ahead of Twitter and Facebook.

3. Build trust via online reputation

Having a visible online reputation creates an instant transparency and credibility. In many instances, when a company pitches clients or another company to obtain their business, the latter will first check out that company’s and their executives’ profiles on social networks, including Klout (which ranks one’s social influence across all networks).

This due diligence supports a level of trust because they can review not only how active you are but also who has recommended and worked successfully with your firm in the past.

4. Engage with your followers

Because your followers voluntarily opt to receive your marketing messages on major social networks, don’t waste that opportunity: engage with them on a regular basis.

If you’re to be successful on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others, you must constantly engage with your followers through conversation, unique offers, and question-and-answer sessions.

Showing your followers you truly are interested in their feedback is using these user-generated platforms for the purpose they were intended.

5. Printing and social media

No longer purchasing from third-party print shops, companies have assumed much of the responsibility for printing their own content — in the form of brochures, flyers, and promos. Owners are much more in control of the content they present to the world.

Hard copies are being generated out of the feedback from the firm’s social network engagements. It’s a smart move to follow up on your social media marketing successes by referencing them in your print media as well.

Recommendations for in-house printing

For your company’s printing needs, a great resource for any small or large business is XPDrivers.com. Lexmark’s current printer drivers can resolve driver conflicts, improve a computer’s stability, and restore communication within your company’s network of printers.

Using this website’s service will save your company money and prove an effective use of your time, so you can refocus on the larger responsibilities of social media marketing.

Rumor has it… Answering on Social Media 101

Rumor

There is a lot of advice online why your company, your brand or even you should have a social media presence. With new platforms popping up every day the profiles you can have to get your name out there are near endless. Any Social Media Marketing Company will advise you to have profiles on at least facebook and Google+ and rightfully so. Done right, social media can be your best friend, helping you to get your name recognized, attract and convert new customers.

Done wrong, well, there have been a few social media disasters in the past. Even by big companies with full-fledged social media teams.  While this may seem like basic advice, it is valuable and you can thank me later. With the advancement of technology and the onslaught of immediate online feedback, it may seem like common sense, but if it were, then there wouldn’t be a need to address it.

There are new people and businesses that enter the world of social media marketing every day. People who don’t understand that online reputation is a real thing, that people take online recommendations into serious account. Brightlocal conducted a survey that found that “85% of consumers say that they read online reviews for local businesses” and “73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more” With the rise of mobile, I predict this number will continue to grow.

That being said, you need to have a solid strategy in place with a timeline to answer questions, comments and concerns about your company. Why? Because “word of online” travels a lot faster than “word of mouth” and rumor has it that your company….

Did that make you cringe? It made me cringe as I wrote it; rightfully so. We all want to be the shining star online but sometimes even the best can’t keep everyone happy. So what do you do when rumor has it on social networks that your company isn’t as great as you know it should be?

  • Take a breath
    Sounds simple but isn’t. Sometimes we get feedback from customers and it may or may not be justified. They may be upset, demanding, rude and downright degrading. They try to rally the masses by pointing out the injustice that happened to them. Take a deep breath. Count to 10. Take a step back and look at what happened. Think of positive ways to approach the comment.
  • Smile
    I know it’s harder but put yourself in a good mood to help yourself craft a positive response. If there is a problem, you are more than happy to fix it, because that is the motto of good customer service.
  • Type your response in Word first
    Or use a notepad if you want. The answer you craft now will be visible to everyone. This message will show your clients and potential clients how you handle negative feedback. Re-write it until it is something that you would be happy with as a disgruntled customer. Don’t use generic template responses. Customers want to be heard, understood and helped. Their situation is unique; treat it as such while staying fair and in the realm of reason.
  • Take the complaint(s) serious
    If you repeatedly receive complaints about your customer service for example, take it serious! This truly can impact whether or not you retain and attract new customers. If it is a consistent problem, look into it. Hire a consultant / trainer to teach your employees how to address and handle customers appropriately. Show that you are aware of the issue and that you are resolving it. Nothing screams “we don’t care” more than saying “we apologize for the bad experience” for 6+ months.
  • Don’t delete negative feedback
    As much as I wanted to link to an example of what not to do, how deleting comments will make you go viral in a bad way, I feel that they have suffered enough and that I can make my point without pointing fingers.
    Yes, it is absolutely tempting to hide or delete that comment that you felt was unjustified. But that’s how they felt and you are the reason why. Owning up to it may be hard but with a great response it goes a LONG way with customers.
  • Respond to Good and Bad feedback
    It’s tempting to respond to just good or just bad, but ideally you want to interact with your customers period. Let them know you hear them and care about their opinion. Build relationships with them that both sides value. Even if it is just a “Thank you” answer it has an impact.
  • Answer
    I’ve been pushing the positive response issue but that only works if you actually respond. While firing back a bad comment isn’t smart, neither is silence. Nothing is worse than silence online. Think of it this way. If you go to a restaurant and the food was cold, the server rude and you ask for the manager. He or she comes, you state your complaint and they just stare at you in silence. You complain again, they say NOTHING. Then they slowly disappear.. How would you feel? That’s exactly how your customer online feels. They are still a person behind the screen. It’s easy to forget, but that’s a topic for a different day.
  • Do NOT create FAKE reviews.
    This is really one of the worst things you can do. If you had some bad reviews and all of a sudden a lot of 5 star reviews start popping up everywhere, singing your praises.. then you don’t know how smart your customers are. They can smell a fake a mile away, they conduct research and they will call you out for it. And do NOT hire a company to write you reviews either. What happened in NY may happen to you one day. You can read more about the “Fake Review Crackdown” by Matt McGee if you think it’s a joke.
  • Deal with the Trolls
    It may be tough and unfair, but there will always be people who are out to stir the pot. They thrive on negative energy and to them it’s fun to post things to and about a business that are just not true. Best advice here, deal with it, don’t feed into it and take it with a sense of humor. Don’t let it get the best of you.
  • Learn
    There is an incredible amount of knowledge in reviews and comments online. If you learn the art of listening, you will hear what your customers want, need and even what they hate. It can be a tremendous resource to you if you take the time to talk to them and listen. Ask their advice even, they will tell you what they think the problem is. I am not saying you should take everything they say at face value, but learn with and from your customers, then adjust accordingly and within the limits of what is possible for you to do.

Rumor has it.. that you just understood the importance of good customer service in the world of social media. I also want you to really understand how fast “bad” news travels online. It’s instant. It spreads like wildfire. It becomes distorted as it gets passed on kind of like the whisper game I played as a kid. Be prepared, know how to respond, know what is going on in your business and make sure you communicate with your customers. Keep the line of communication open, so  ”Rumor has it” only stays a song.

Have you ever been at the receiving end of “rumor has it”? Share your stories and connect with me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.