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Using Social Media to Enhance Your Organizational Reputation

Bridget B. 1 Comments

I recently did a research paper which focused on how–if at all–organizations use digital communication tools in reputation management. The results of my study showed that online communication between organizations and their publics is in fact being used as a means of managing corporate reputation. More importantly, I found that specific tactics such as active listening and engaged responses lay the foundation for reputation management via online communication.

Let’s just talk about social media –blogs, microblogging (e.g. Twitter), social networking sites (e.g. Facebook), professional networks (e.g. LinkedIn), video sharing 9e.g. YouTube) and content driven communities (e.g. Wikipedia)– these mediums have all significantly altered the way that businesses provide services, interact with their stakeholders and manage their reputations.

Stakeholders now use social media to comment on a company’s actions in public forums. Customers Tweet to companies and expect immediate feedback, investors conduct their due diligence online and employees leave reviews about their experience at the workplace on Glassdoor.com. Recently someone posted a photograph –to Instagram and Facebook– of a store they had visited. This person was basically telling everyone on their friend list not to patronize this store because customer service was terrible. This is how your organization’s reputation can be tarnished online.

How can a business act in a situation such as the one above?

Get on social media and respond. It’s important that business owners be present on social media, not just to market their brand or product, but to listen to what is being said. Use social media to interact with your customers, answer queries, apologize for bad customer service and build strong relationships. In a 2007 study conducted by S. U. Yang, it was found that favorable organizational reputation can be obtained by quality relationship management between an organization and its strategic publics. Put simply, building strong relationships can help you to develop positive perceptions of your organization which by extension influences your overall reputation.

Here are four (4) recommendations which can be implemented if you wish to use online messaging systems to support your reputation management processes:

  1. Utilize online messaging systems to hear and address your stakeholders concerns. These messaging systems facilitate convenient instant communication between your organization and your publics. External stakeholders will not be restricted by your business hours, which usually delays responses and sometimes results in matters remaining unresolved.
  2. Your online engagement team should be trained to actively listen to customer concerns to get an understanding of the underlying issue. Training personnel in active listening helps staff to be alert for cues, which in turn helps determine the root of the issue and can significantly reduce the number of instances where customers feel as though their concerns have not been addressed. Active listening also mitigates miscommunication between the employee and the customer.
  3. Dedicated personnel should be assigned to engage with stakeholders via online mediums. Dedicated team members assigned to social media and online communication will be better prepared for customer interactions. Familiarity of the online communication system can boost efficiency and accuracy of the information communicated to the customer.
  4. All internal departments and teams should share information and collaborate to find customer solutions. Including other departments when developing the guidelines and processes for customer interaction ensures that the correct information is always communicated to the customer, reduces the risk for internal conflict as all departments are on the same page, and mitigates litigation.

Strategic use of social media for communicating with customers can positively impact your organization’s reputation. Employing specific tactics such as active listening, engaged responses and internal collaboration, you can build strong relationships with customers and empower your employees to take the necessary steps to resolve issues.  Remember that strong relationships with your stakeholders can have a significant positive effect on your organization’s reputation.

Plot your PR

Bridget B. No Comments

Photo courtesy: Spectrum

If you are anything like me, Saturday is the day you use to do all of your “running around”. Whether you’re going to the grocery store, getting your hair done (at the barber or hairdresser 🙂 ), doing errands or just some pleasure shopping. By the time you get into your car, I am sure you already have a plan in your head; do my hair, head to the grocery store (list in hand), pick up the package at John’s, then run into the mall for a pair of shoes. I am also certain that you’ve also plotted your driving route before coming out of the driveway. You don’t sit in the car, start driving and then try to figure out what you’re doing and where you’re going!

Sometimes we find ourselves stumped in front of the keyboards of our computers, trying to think of a witty Facebook status, LinkedIn post or tweet for Twitter. We may even have to scroll back in time to make sure that we’re not repeating any posts. In much the same way we plan out our Saturday movements, we also need a plan for our business’s PR.

You want to make sure that your Public Relations activities are in line with the overall business goals. There should always be a point to each activity. Based on the business goals, you can then formulate your PR plan. What do you hope to achieve? Who do you want to target? What actions do you want to drive? Having a plan will help you to answer these questions.

Your PR plan should contain these four (4) elements goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. Some people are probably thinking Terminology! EEEK! So let’s talk about these elements using layman terms.

  • Goals – What do you want? What’s your golden trophy? A goal can be aligned to your company’s vision. An example of a goal: ‘Be the most sought after provider of gel ink pens’ (I once sold gel ink pens as a teenager to my school friends). The thing about goals is that they are hard to measure; how can we determine that we are the most sought after provider of gel ink pens?
  • Objectives – To be able to measure success or determine if we’re any closer to achieving our goal, we identify objectives. A measurable objective would be to sell twice as many gel ink pens by the end of the 2nd quarter. 
  • Strategies – We’ve gotten to the “What”. What will help us to achieve these objectives and in turn meet our goal? If more people were aware that we sold gel ink pens at a reduced cost, that can lead to more sales. The strategy can therefore be to increase awareness about our brand and product.
  • Tactics – Now we get to the heavy lifting. How do we increase awareness about our brand? Maybe we start an advertising campaign; get some stellar artwork designed, print and put up posters around the neighborhood, take out a couple newspaper ads,  give out free samples of our gel ink pens to passersby, hand out flyers, hit social media.

In the end we will be able to determine the success of our PR campaign based on the objectives we set for ourself. We know that we need to sell twice as many pens. And there we have it…. measurement!

I came across this awesome guide for setting measurable PR objectives on the website for the Institute for Public Relations (they have GREAT content by the way). Although the document is a bit long (14 pages), and quite black and white, it is informative and I believe, very helpful for PR practitioners.

Click here to check it out.

Go forth and plot your PR!

Strictly Business

Bridget B. No Comments

One of my main considerations when I included the social media icons on my personal website was, whether or not to link them with my already existing social accounts.

Many individuals who start up small businesses, consultancy firms or non-profits, tend to use their ‘friend list’ as the capital investment into followers, page likes and such. While it may be a good place to start, it is certainly nowhere to remain.

Social Media has become this virtual “soap box” that all and sundry uses to air their personal views (or rantings) on topics that are usually dear to their hearts. However, our personal opinions should not be imposed on our customers, clients, business partners, investors and the like.

It is important to keep it ‘strictly business’ when dealing with audiences in the cyber world. If not, there is the risk of some stakeholders becoming turned off of our brand because they may have contradicting views.

Here are a few tips on managing your online presence with some of the more popular social platforms:

1. Facebook – Create a Facebook business page and invite your friends to like it. Moving forward, use the page for all communication with stakeholders. If someone messages you on your personal profile, it is ok to politely ask them to contact you via the business page. With the Facebook Pages Manager app for mobile devices, it is very easy to maintain communication without having to log out of you personal profile.

2. Twitter – Since there is the option to add multiple Twitter accounts on mobile devices, I would suggest creating a dedicated Twitter account for your business. Twitter is a great way to interact with stakeholders as millions of people tweet everyday. A dedicated Twitter account will help to strengthen your brand’s presence.

3.  LinkedIn – A different approach can be used with LinkedIn since it is a professional network, especially if you have a small business and want to establish personal connections with business partners or investors.  Feel free to add your LinkedIn badge to your company page, but be mindful of the kind of content you post; include any relevant academic qualifications, detail projects you have worked and even describe your business. LinkedIn can be thought of as your online business card or resumé.

Now that you have an idea of how to manage your online presence, choose the social platforms that you think will be of the most benefit to your business.

Remember, keep it strictly business!

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About Blog

I blog about communication and marketing strategies for small businesses, consultants and non-profits. I am specifically interested in how digital communication can be used to improve organizational reputation and growth of the business.

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