Today, we will discuss the issue of reputation in social media and examine the key elements of its formation in this context. We will find out why effective reputation management is so important and explore the main participants in the reputation process. We will understand how to respond to negativity, look at channels for responding to it, and learn to determine the tone of communication.
The discussion of a company’s reputation components in social media requires consideration of several aspects.
Key importance is given to:
- How you present yourself.
- What customers say about your products.
- How partners evaluate your interaction.
- The impressions left by employees, both past and present.
The positioning of the company and its behavior in social media make up only a quarter of the overall picture. The remaining three quarters belong to feedback from employees, customers, and partners. It is important to pay attention to the consistency of the company’s image in social media with other channels to avoid a negative reputation caused by inconsistency.
Understanding the target audience in each channel is also a necessary component. Communication policies must align with subgroups of the target audience, providing content that is better received in each specific channel.
Communication strategy and brand book remain necessary tools regardless of the company’s size. You can start with a simple description of the company’s image, presenting it as a person. This will allow you to build an effective communication policy, and a brand book, even in the form of a small presentation.
It is essential to emphasize the importance of reputation management. Information about the company published by customers, partners, and employees is viewed by many people every day. Just imagine that negative reviews become a source of trust loss, which, in turn, leads to financial losses. People who encounter negative reviews will want to avoid interacting with your company.
Another important aspect worth highlighting is the influence of top managers and public figures on the company’s reputation. Their behavior in society, their activity on social media, their views, and likes—all of this constantly influences people’s perception. This is especially important for partners who see your company through the prism of its employees and top management. When considering the strategy, attention should be paid to how well the views of public figures align with the company’s values.
Thus, to build an effective reputation strategy, you need to focus on three simple steps: listen, respond, and interact. However, each of these steps has its complexities.
Step one – listen.
It is necessary to carefully monitor the names of your products. If they are unique, that’s great. Otherwise, attention should be paid to the brand. It is important to monitor the names of key individuals and public speakers, studying reviews and reactions after their speeches or publications.
Additionally, it is worth including the names of your partners and competitors in the search. This will provide additional information about current events in the industry and serve as an example for comparison. Thus, you can obtain analytical data that will be useful in developing a reputation strategy.
But how can all this be tracked? For this, there are countless monitoring systems. Among the popular ones are Cribum, Medialogia, Brand Analytics, each of which is suitable for specific tasks. The decision on the choice depends on your goals.
For companies with a limited budget or small businesses that cannot afford professional monitoring systems, it is recommended to use additional tools provided by Google and Yandex.
Step two – respond.
Who can provide responses on behalf of the company? Customers, employees, partners, and especially the company’s top executives. It is crucial to decide whether you want this or not.
Customers often easily find the CEO on social media after their posts and ask questions about why a product or service does not meet their expectations. It is important to understand that top executives should interact with such comments only through the PR department, regardless of the CEO’s previous experience in PR.
The PR department also plays a significant role in handling requests from public figures, opinion leaders, and in crisis situations. If the regular support service cannot handle a situation on social media, the PR department should be the first to know about it.
Now, about the support service. This service deals with all other mentions of the company in social media that did not reach the top executives or the PR department. The main parameters are the speed and quality of responses.
The actions of employees, including the support service, on their personal accounts during non-working hours are a relevant issue for most companies providing user support on social media. Employees must clearly understand how to act when approached and who should respond to questions. This is particularly important to avoid potential mistakes, especially in public discussions.
Step three – interact.
Here, it is necessary to impact users’ interest in the content, whether it is to increase or decrease it.
It is important to create interest around positive reviews by providing vivid responses and maintaining a dialogue. Attracting ambassadors and opinion leaders requires special attention to content and the creation of interesting cases and may involve artificially increasing reach.
In the case of negative reviews, active actions can vary. If the reason is real and solvable, it is better to turn the customer into a positive state and then increase the reach of positive reviews. If the negativity is unfounded or in an uncontrollable situation, you can try to “bore” the review by providing information that will bore readers, thus reducing interest in it.
“Your product is terrible” – “Thank you for the feedback, glad you liked it.”
If your brand aspires to be serious or is already considered such, it is necessary to master the art of well-founded and elegant responses to customer reviews. The goal is to make communication pleasant, avoiding offense and demonstrating care. Let’s explore the scenario of dealing with negative reviews, referred to as “negativity parking.”
This concept may seem unusual, but by the end of this section, we will explain why it is called that.
What not to do
Effective methods for handling negativity can be observed in major brands. Study the approaches of Russian Post, Sberbank, VTB Bank, large football clubs, and other national structures. Observe how they interact in discussions, private messages, and comments, as well as how they respond to emails. Each brand has a common scenario for engaging in discussions, which they follow and use to avoid provocations.
These brands are a vivid example of using the negativity parking method. They do not justify themselves or delve into the details of negative reviews in the comments. Instead, they redirect the dialogue to private channels—that’s the “parking.”
Work with negativity in private messages, whether it’s through email, VKontakte, Telegram, or other messengers. Learn to effectively manage negativity in private messages, essentially “parking” it. If the inquiry comes through a specific channel, respond in that same channel. For example, if someone writes on Telegram, respond to them there.
Let’s consider the following example.
Users of a grocery hypermarket express their dissatisfaction: the brand bothers them with SMS mailings. Whether it is appropriate or not, we leave it to the conscience of the brand. However, the fact remains: users are not overly pleased, which can lead to a negative perception. A customer expresses a desire to unsubscribe from the mailings, threatening to write negative comments daily under each post. Considering that constant expression of dissatisfaction can be unpleasant for everyone, let’s look at how best to respond to such a situation:
- Request to email for problem resolution
In reality, we recommend responding in the same media where the review was received. If the inquiry came through email, reply via email. If it’s through social media, respond there. Consider the specifics of your audience—imagine a youthful category actively using messengers, WhatsApp, and Telegram. Encouraging communication through email in this context may appear unsuccessful.
- Suggest leaving the phone number in a private message
Here, we propose that the customer independently write in private messages. In modern customer service practices, there are two approaches: the customer can initiate communication by sending a direct message, or the brand can independently reach out in private messages. However, it’s worth considering the unfortunate practice where support service messages often go unnoticed by customers, as they end up in the “message requests” folder. Therefore, actively respond to comments, address users by name, or use the “@” symbol to draw attention to your response.
- Pose a question
Give them the opportunity to reply in private messages. For instance, suggest providing a phone number, order number, or details of the issue in private. This way, you redirect the negativity towards private messages, initiating a dialogue with the user. When the customer contacts privately, respond and begin the discussion, extracting all the details of the negative experience from them.
- Once the person has expressed all their grievances, offer them a promo code or discount, unsubscribe them from mailings, and be sure to ask additional questions: “Is there anything else we can help you with?” Even after providing a discount or promo code, don’t close the dialogue immediately. Ask about additional needs or issues.
When the customer has said everything they wanted, and you’ve offered them help, thank them for reaching out and suggest continuing the conversation: “Thank you, [customer’s name]. We’ve reviewed your case in private messages. If you have any more questions or issues, feel free to write to us.” This comment will be visible to all users, allowing them to see that the brand responded attentively to the negativity and offered assistance.
This approach allows for effective management of negative situations by redirecting them to private messages and demonstrating that problems are handled attentively and promptly. So, park the negativity.
Addressing Negativity: Choosing Channels for Responding and Handling Negative Reviews.
Let’s explore various approaches to dealing with negativity. As known, negative feedback is an integral part of any brand’s operation. There will always be dissatisfied customers, and complaints will arise. Nevertheless, the existence of negativity also indicates the presence of customers.
Suppose you are a major bank, and a customer comes to your VKontakte group to voice their complaints. It is important that a brand representative responds promptly.
The response is usually formulated on behalf of the brand itself, confirmed by a verification checkmark. Unfortunately, not all brands, especially new or small ones, place importance on this verification. However, its presence prevents the appearance of “impostors” and instills greater trust among users.
What should be done in response to negativity? It’s perfectly acceptable to refer to external sources, especially in technical questions or reviews about services not directly related to the brand. This helps provide more detailed information.
Large brands actively engage with their audience on various social media platforms. It’s essential to be present wherever potential users are. Even if you don’t have a full-fledged group, at least create an account for quick interaction with users.
Sometimes it’s worth introducing not only the brand but also specific employees. This creates a more personalized and trusting image. Employees actively participating in social media can react more quickly and efficiently to negativity, building long-term relationships with customers.
Let’s consider another example. A user addresses a taxi aggregator and describes the situation in detail. It’s great that in this case, a comment immediately appears where people refer to the brand representative.
What can we extract from this? It is very beneficial when a brand has public figures, representatives, so-called speakers, who are recognized among users. People whom you can directly involve in resolving negative situations.
The more prominent the brand representative, the higher the likelihood that they will be summoned in the comments or mentioned directly in the post. Therefore, strive to develop public images so that users can turn to them to address various issues.
However, effective management of negativity is not limited to social media. There are other channels, sometimes less obvious. For example, some advanced banks create chats in their mobile applications. The importance of such communication channels lies in the fact that the user can express their dissatisfaction directly in the chat, believing that the problem will be resolved faster.
Such tech-savvy banks provide the opportunity to communicate without the need to travel, write statements, or make calls. Just a chat where you can describe the problem. The reaction to such inquiries occurs almost in real-time, and the case is resolved directly during the conversation.
If you have the opportunity or your brand has its mobile application, introduce a chat there, a messenger analogue. Thus, you park the negativity within the application, avoiding its appearance on social networks. This is especially relevant for the younger audience, which prefers writing in chats rather than making calls. This approach is more technological, fast, and pleasant for users.
In conclusion, we have looked at several channels where negativity can be effectively managed. Of course, there are other methods, such as Skype, phone, Telegram, WhatsApp. However, the main and most obvious methods include responses on social media, establishing communication in private messages, or within applications. In subsequent sections, we will explore even more strategies for handling negativity.
Communication nuances with a brand’s audience on social media.
Let’s discuss how to effectively interact with users on social media on behalf of a brand and adapt to different types of users.
One of the key aspects of communication on social media is style. So let’s start with tips on working with text:
- Eliminate clichés, remove unnecessary words, and formality. Text should be as simple and lively as possible. In digital channels, users do not appreciate formal language; they prefer simplicity and clarity.
- Avoid the use of complex terms, replace them with simpler ones.
- Aim for brevity and structure. Shorten the text, make it clear and compelling.
- Do not inform the user that you will pass the information to the relevant department. Users do not want to know where you are forwarding their request. They expect a response and a solution from you personally.
- Do not make promises if you are not sure. Speak clearly and confidently, avoid phrases like “I’ll try” or “maybe.” Let your promises be precise.
- Avoid manipulations. Do not offer bonuses or other privileges in exchange for customer feedback. Correct mistakes honestly and transparently.
- Do not criticize your customers. Help solve their problems and listen to their criticism without judgment.
- Write as if you are talking to a friend.
Adhering to these principles will allow for effective interaction with users on social media and create a positive perception of the brand.
Now, let’s look at different types of customers and learn how to interact with them. The first stage is the initial contact with customers, where we classify them into four main types: constructive, emotional, troll, and positive.
Constructive customers are those who clearly express their problems. We can respond, ask clarifying questions, provide answers, and solutions. As a result, the customer gets a problem resolved, and we demonstrate readiness to tackle difficulties.
Emotional customers express emotions without clear specifics. It is important to identify details by asking clarifying questions. If specifics are found, we can solve the problem; otherwise, it may be necessary to classify the customer as a troll.
Trolls are challenging customers who manipulate for emotional responses. Ignoring can be effective, as it deprives the troll of attention. In some cases, it may be possible to stop the dialogue, but this requires the ability not to get involved in personal attacks.
Positive customers come in two forms: those expressing positive feelings and positive critics. Both cases require a response. In the case of positive reviews, we emphasize our activity and positivity. Positive critics require support and promises of improvements.
It is essential to learn how to interact effectively with each type of customer, maintaining professionalism and a positive attitude.
Now, let’s consider another aspect that is inherent to every individual, as well as animals. There are four main temperamental types, formed from two key variables: a strong or weak nervous system and the level of vital energy, i.e., extraversion and introversion.
- Introvert – a person with a limited social circle but a rich inner world, full of thoughts and projects. This temperament type is characterized by internal activity.
- Extrovert – on the contrary, a person who needs constant communication with others. This is someone who constantly pours out emotions on others and expects a reaction in return.
From these two variables, four temperamental types are formed.
- Choleric – expressive, negatively oriented, showing aggression. Communication with a choleric person is recommended in a soldier-officer format, suppressing emotions and providing clear solutions to problems.
- Melancholic – anxious, pessimistic, requiring constant support and inspiration. It is essential to encourage, instill confidence, and maintain trust.
- Sanguine – a positive, cheerful person who needs corresponding communication. However, after solving the problem, it is better to limit the dialogue to avoid excessive activity on their part.
- Phlegmatic – rational, composed, not showing emotions. Interaction with phlegmatics is best built by reflecting their communication style and providing reasoned arguments.
Communication on social media differs from other forms of communication, and the interaction format should align with users’ expectations in this environment. Effective viral cases can be created even by the support team, influencing the company’s image on social media. Success depends on the professionalism of the team.
Handling Reviews: The Art of Interaction
In this section, we will discuss the importance of communication tone, specifically delving into the process of developing a tone of voice system. But what is it exactly?
Imagine yourself as a representative of a major brand and think about how you should interact with people. Should your tone be serious or cheerful? Youthful or mature? Technological, complex, intricate, or rather straightforward?
If you haven’t decided who you truly are and how you should communicate with users, it’s time to develop a Tone of Voice system for your brand.
Let’s start by looking at big data mentions related to your brand. Users actively use your products and services, and among their reviews, you can find words like: stuck, spoiled, not working, refund, all bad, wrong product, scary. These are just a few phrases that any brand, to a greater or lesser extent, hears.
Before addressing these issues, it is necessary to determine who will handle them. In the context of large brands, there are many services that could theoretically interact with users. It could be customer support, PR service, marketing department, SMM specialists, and even top management.
However, despite the variety of services, there is often a lack of a unified vision – tone of voice, on how the brand should communicate with users. Different services may use different approaches, creating an inconsistent brand image.
It’s also important to think about where and what to respond to. Different brands may target different audiences and product categories. Different regions, cultures, states, and languages also add their peculiarities to communication with users.
In the end, the absence of a clear tone of voice leads brands to face the problem of inconsistency in communication and an inability to interact effectively with different audiences and contexts. Developing a clear communication system becomes a key element of a successful brand strategy.
So, why do we interact with users? And how will we consider our future tone in this process?
First and foremost, we aim to help customers. We are customer support; we provide answers to their questions. Secondly, we aim to sell something. When a user asks about choosing a car, we can offer a test drive, engaging in lead generation and brand promotion.
The brand should be media-savvy and ready to answer questions, engage in promotion and advertising, and also defend itself against negativity and black PR. However, the goals are different, and developing a tone of voice for them should start now.
Where can we find mentions about ourselves? It’s important to understand what people are saying about us, competitors, and the industry. Monitoring systems, such as Brand Analytics, Youscan, Yandex blog search, can help. Everything can be found. The choice of method depends on your budget and needs.
Before implementing a unified analysis and communication system with users, it’s important to understand that this is a diverse process. At the first stage, a monitoring system is launched, collecting big data about mentions, questions, and requests. Then comes the analysis of this data, identifying frequent questions, forming a list of situations, and developing a team that will respond to them.
Employee training is an integral part of the process because it’s important to know how to react to negativity, insults, and provocations. It’s necessary to define the order of reaction in different situations and create response templates.
At the end of this process, a final tone of voice is formed, determining the brand’s communication style. It could be serious or cheerful, technical or simple, complex or accessible.
The tone of communication embodies the general details of what to say and how to say it in different scenarios.
Common scenarios that brands consider when developing tone include many aspects. For example, determining formality or informality in communication – whether to use “you” or “thou.” This is important, as the choice depends on various factors, including the target audience and the nature of the product or service.
Determining seriousness or playfulness also plays a crucial role. If a brand is oriented towards B2B super-large businesses, it will likely adhere to a serious tone. Meanwhile, children’s toys or youth internet banks may engage in informal and playful communication with users, providing content in the form of comics and memes.
Analyzing whether a brand is mature or youthful also determines the choice of tone of voice. Understanding the target audience using monitoring systems allows creating content that is more relevant and interesting to a specific group of users.
Another important aspect is determining whether the brand is simple or technical. Depending on the nature of the product, such as internet hosting, internet agency, or system integrator, the brand may choose a more straightforward or technical communication tone.
Despite all these parameters, developing a tone of voice always begins with considering the brand’s history and values. This ensures the creation of a unique image, taking into account the degree of formality, seriousness, age group, and technicality of the brand. Based on this, the brand can approach communication with users, considering their preferences and expectations, creating a distinctive and easily recognizable tone of voice.
Suppose you’ve already created your communication style and trained your employees. In that case, it’s always essential to remember a few obligatory elements. It’s crucial to determine what forms of address you prefer, such as using “you” or “thou,” as well as greeting and farewell phrases like “hello,” “good day,” “goodbye,” and “farewell.” Also, decide whether you will address customers by name or not.
Forbidden Words and Topics – Another Significant Aspect Requiring Careful Consideration
In many countries, politics, sex, and religion are considered topics that are better avoided due to their potential sensitivity. This is important because an improperly chosen topic can negatively impact how your brand is perceived by customers.
It’s also crucial to determine how you will respond – whether on behalf of the brand or personally. Response options can vary from a bank’s account to employee profiles or even the use of a mascot. Personal responses can create more trust, especially in the case of narrowly segmented brands, but in some situations, a brand response may be more prestigious.
Consider audience parameters as well, such as gender, age, region, and decide whether you will use jokes, slang, and how formal or informal your image will be.
The development of Tone of Voice is a process that may require adjustments depending on the platform, region, and for each individual brand within the company.
Be prepared to tailor your image to different platforms, regions, and brands, considering their unique features. We remind you that when developing tone, it’s important to maintain a balanced and professional approach to maintain customer trust and create a unique brand image.
In conclusion, let’s address crisis situations. They will inevitably arise, and there’s no escaping that fact. Therefore, it’s crucial to pay attention to the key steps that can significantly help.
The first step is forecasting, planning, and prevention.
Every planned publication, every advertising campaign requires a plan with an evaluation of pros, cons, possible risks, and crisis response options. By analyzing the path for the coming months or weeks, we aim to prevent negative scenarios.
Step two is realizing that absolute control over reputational risks is an illusion. They can arise from different sources: customers, partners, employees. It’s impossible to control them all.
Step three – managing reputational risks. Management involves our three simple points: listen, respond, and control coverage.
A quick response to a crisis, within 10-20 minutes, usually makes resolving the situation much easier. Delay can lead to difficulties, and social media monitoring should be set up for prompt detection and response to crises.
Controlling the aftermath after resolving a crisis is a key moment. Forgetting about the situation and not monitoring its aftermath can lead to unpleasant echo effects. Crisis echoes can arise when information about a negative situation is saved in screenshots and spread across various resources.
It’s important to monitor each crisis situation and additionally track its aftermath. Echo crises can be activated at any moment, even after successfully resolving the initial problem. Monitoring and controlling the search queries used in echo posts will help prevent their spread.
In the end, we have covered the main aspects of reputation management, highlighted the importance of prompt response to crisis situations, and emphasized the need for control over the effects after their resolution. We hope this information will serve as a useful foundation for your social media reputation management strategy.
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