Online marketing and branding on social media have changed dramatically over the years. Common practices in e-marketing and branding no longer work.
- Brands “practiced before they preached” and had something to back their words. Now, the prevalent practice is to “preach before one practices” and make a promise of an amazing customer experience before introducing it, something like the marketing of blockbuster movies or the product launch of huge corporations.
- Building trust was a priority over tearing down criticism. Now, making criticism irrelevant is part of trust-building. Every narrative has a weakness and with millions of people evaluating a narrative, the weakness always emerges sooner than later. A bigger audience means more visibility, and therefore more criticism. Hence, “authenticity and transparency” become crucial.
- A reputation could be redefined with each new branding activity without the baggage of the past. Now, every new branding activity must have an inherent awareness of the past baggage and give a fitting reason to forget the past and see the brand in a new light. Reasoning is necessary, even if it is a subtle hint. Everything is evaluated by professional critics, reviewers and social media influencers right down to the last letter.
So, how does one manage reputation today?
- Be receptive: Maybe you have made a mistake when it comes to online communication or a brand expression, or have engaged in an activity that seems contrary to your brand values. You have to be receptive of all the online chatter and identify anything that could devolve into a viral discussion and make you struggle for answers. There are countless questions and criticisms and it becomes necessary to make educated guesses and reduce uncertainty.
- Respond to Complaints: If customers complain, you need to respond. Set up a page on your website such as Growthink complaints on which you present and respond to complaints. Likewise, if customers post comments or complaints on social media websites, be sure to respond there to show you stand behind your company’s reputation and try to satisfy all of your customers.
- Be transparent and authentic: Online cover-ups are extremely expensive today. In the event of a mistake, it is best to face the music and show the brand to be transparent and willing to improve. The core of authenticity may seem very difficult to follow, but the key is to be “authentically vulnerable” or “authentically human enough to make mistakes”. Just remember that humans do make mistakes and this is not a criminal trial. Owning up to a mistake, presenting it as a mistake instead of an intentionally evil act, and – most importantly – making amends, is key. There are numerous examples of brands being caught doing something unethical, then making amends or starting campaigns that reflect their intent to make amends.
- Be spontaneous, responsive and responsible: Respond to both good and bad messages spontaneously. Even angry and distrusting followers appreciate the attention. Managing trolls is another thing, but it is best not to presume that all followers are trolls. A quick response shows spontaneity and responsibility towards the brand and politeness shows that you are responsible towards your audience. True, conversations can be unnerving, but it all requires politeness. There are even examples of times when other members of the audience became empathetic and dragged down the trouble maker.
- Utilize Humor and Wit: We have often seen celebrities use wit and sarcasm to counter vicious attacks. Follow their example and add fun to the conversation. It is never a good practice to try to bury the conversation, because this only shows you are trying to hide something. Wit, on the other hand, makes the other person look like a fool, and reminds them to be polite.
- Focus on your SEO: You have to be very aggressive with your SEO, especially in times of negative posts and news feeds about your brand. These days, Google is your business card – or handshake, if you will; its first page should always show you in good light.