“The beauty of social media is that it will point out your company’s flaws; the key question is how quickly you address these flaws.” — Erik Qualmann, Socialnomics
Social media has billions of users. Facebook alone accounts for more than one billion users around the world. Add to that those who post tweets on Twitter, upload pictures, watch videos, check in to restaurants, and chat. Social media played an integral role in the 2012 U.S. elections, and now it might just help determine who survives in the business world.
Twitter is one of the fastest sources of real-time news. The Pew Research Center estimates that as of December 2012, 16% of internet users are tweeting, re-tweeting, or following posts. One tweet about how good or bad your product is re-tweeted a hundred times over could be seen by millions of users.
This is just a portion of the power that Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks possess. It is imperative that you harness this power for your business’s benefit. In the book, Marketing in the Age of Google: Your Online Strategy Is Your Business Strategy, author Vanessa Fox says that “the world has changed. And not participating in the conversation is a loud statement of its own to your customer base. You can’t control your branding message in any case because your customers are already talking about you online. The best you can do is to participate.”
A social network can have numerous benefits to your public relations as well as your reputation management efforts. These include the following:
- It provides an excellent avenue for your business to connect with your customers.
- It reinforces online presence, promoting the idea that the company is never out of reach, and creates a hub where customers may be involved in some of the activities of the company.
- It allows you to build a relationship with your customer, and allows you to engage them more quickly and directly.
In reputation management, social networks act as effective channels for disseminating positive content, and for receiving and giving feedback. They help enhance your customers’ trust in you, and help maintain a positive image for your company. Social networks are not perfect, but with the proper precautions and the proper strategy, you can use the power of a “like” and a “tweet.”