By: MJ Pedone
There are conversations taking place about brands 24 hours a day through social media. Are you a part of these conversations or are you hoping that this form of communication will come to a halt in a few more weeks? Social media offers a variety of opportunities for brands to get involved by participating in those conversations. While participating in social media is not without risk, not participating might prove to be the greater risk — especially to reputations.
Here are three risks for resisting involvement in social media for companies, brands, business owners and service providers:
Having your reputation defined by others: People are talking about you; your company and your brand, and your stakeholders expect you to be paying attention in real time, especially when they have a customer service complaint or positive feedback to give. You decide whether to participate in this conversation or not, but at least you are aware of what is being said. This is the new frontier for reputation risk management. If you don’t tell your story, others will tell it for you.
Being invisible and less credible: The social Web is changing how people communicate and access information. With a smartphone, tablet or any handheld device, you can search the web and find just about any information you seek instantaneously from wherever you are. People are searching for you and want to read what they can. Not having a presence on the web means that you are not easy to find and can lead people to question whether you have a credible business or not. People are constantly turning to the different social sites as the easiest and most effective way to get their questions answered within seconds. Potential buyers are going online to research products or services before they purchase them and potential clients visit your different sites before they meet you. If people are looking for information about you or your business, what are they finding? A social page or profile even on a basic level enables you to provide accurate and helpful information about the services you or your company provides. Furthermore, social media pages typically appear with prominence in search results — without these online presences, relationship managers and organizations risk not being present in the search results when an interested prospect goes looking.
Being perceived as behind the curve: As consumers embrace new technologies, they expect businesses to do the same. Organizations and their team members that aren’t using social platforms will not be perceived as forward thinking and can risk losing potential clients who want business partners who speak their language. Would you open checking account with a bank that doesn’t have an online portal? Today, we depend upon online access for our data, so that seems inconceivable. Soon customers will feel this way about having a social connection with businesses.
Social media is perhaps best thought of as a set of new and innovative ways for businesses and customers to do what they have always done: build relationships, exchange information, read and write reviews and leverage trusted networks of friends and experts.
As you contemplate the risks and rewards of social media, I suggest that the key source for evaluation is simply to experience it for yourself. There are many low risk ways to do this, even if you work in a regulated industry. One of the best suggestions I have is to hire an experienced social media specialist who has the knowledge and experience with different companies.
Today’s real time social media world is challenging all businesses, brands, and professionals to adapt or at least make an informed decision not to. As you consider the many risks associated with being or not being in social media, it is important not to overlook the rewards and opportunities.
Have you reaped the rewards of social media? Is your strategy relevant? I welcome all comments. As always, if you like what you read be social and share.