Transparency in all dealings is one of the riskiest commandments of entrepreneurship. Companies should learn how to embrace transparency as a method of reaching out to their audience and as a key tenet of brand building and management. Knowing how to deflect compromising situations in a manner that protects and enhances the brand’s reputation is beneficial for businesses that regard transparency as a consumer relations principle.
Social media represents a myriad of opportunities for businesses to grow their brand. However, it is also an untrammeled vehicle for criticism, and the vitriol of customer dissatisfaction or competitive mudslinging from other companies knows no limit. So while it represents an efficient marketing instrument, social media also pecks at business vulnerability. A single tweet, post, or comment can make or break a brand and an auto-generated message of apology or appreciation can add fuel to fire when handled improperly. The case of Domino’s Pizza’s unfitting reply to a positive consumer feedback is the running cautionary tale.
Such incident supports the idea that indignantly and completely discounting both the message and the source does no good to the business. Entrepreneurs must think through online marketing activities that concern the brand, applying the principle of transparency especially when dealing with online complaints. Being transparent, however, doesn’t mean that businesses have to be brutally honest in dealing with audiences. The goal of transparency is to let consumers know that their concerns are not neglected and to turn mishaps into opportunities that benefit the brand.
Being transparent is risky, but it can’t be hedged by being false. A single rant or mishandled post could add up to the brand’s expense until it becomes a total disaster. Good thing the Internet opens doors for defying complaints before they become a major dilemma.
Below are a few rules in online reputation repair:
• Listening to consumers— Knowing exactly what’s being said about the brand should precede any reputation repair efforts. It’s critical to monitor keywords appearing in social media discussions to determine the actions needed for the campaign.
• Evaluating criticisms—Entrepreneurs can save time and effort by letting go of invalid and insignificant comments and focusing on posts that matter. They should stay open-minded in assessing whether or not there’s any truth to each complaint and acknowledge an infallible basis rather than deny it. They must know that their statements reflect the brand and that consumers’ trust is as vulnerable as the brand’s status in this kind of situation.
• Planning the social media strategy—It’s important to step up to the plate before the situation soars out of control. The strategy should be honest, straightforward, and sincere, and should be supplemented with constant vigilance on online activities. Consumers may forget the problems that pricked a company’s reputation, but it may take them a while to forget how the company handled it.