It is undeniable that social media has dominated the online community. People from different corners of the world have an account to at least one major social networking site, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Nielsen reported in the last quarter of 2012 that “consumers continue to spend more time on social networks than on any other category of sites – roughly 20 percent of their total time online via personal computer (PC), and 30 percent of total time online via mobile.” In addition, total time spent by Americans on social media rose from 88 billion minutes in 2011 to 121 billion minutes in 2012.
These may just be numbers for some people, but in reality, social media continues to expand its presence all over the world through the increase in the number of users, social networking sites, and time spent on these sites. Because of the prevalence of social media, it is no surprise that many businesses have taken the leap toward social media marketing to boost their online presence.
As Nielsen has reported, an increasing number of consumers are using social media platforms to research a brand or product. Moreover, active users of social media read and write their own product reviews “to protect others from bad experiences” and to interact with brands “on a customer service level.” For these reasons, millions of businesses around the world continue to use social media as a means for branding and reputation management.
Through social networking sites and other online platforms, businesses are able to reach a much wider audience. This is true particularly for small businesses that are only able to reach customers offline if they reside within a certain geographical area. Businesses that have an online presence can attract more customers, even from those outside their area, as compared to businesses who aren’t active online.
Additionally, social media provides businesses the opportunity to interact directly with their customers, which can help them establish an image of being reliable and approachable. A survey by SocialCommerceToday.com reported that many consumers “are more likely to trust brands that integrate social media” than those who don’t.
Online Reputation Management
Part of operating a business is dealing with negative feedback; how businesses handle this task speaks volumes about their willingness to provide excellent customer service. By using social media, businesses can address negative feedback by directly contacting the commenters and resolving their concern privately, which can also help establish trustworthiness among consumers.
In addition, businesses can use social media to bury damaging feedback. This can be done through site updates, which not only rank high on search results, but also encourage customers to take notice of a business’ products or services.
As social media continues to grow, so does the number of businesses that use it for branding and reputation management. Because of this, businesses are faced with the challenge of standing out by using striking, thought-provoking online campaigns.
TAGS: online branding, social media, reputation management, social networking