Content marketing is arguably the buzz word of 2013 and has become a welcome change in the way digital marketers think about to go about reaching their audiences and driving traffic to their sites or building brand awareness . The increasing amount of time that people spend online searching for information has placed more emphasis on the importance of a (creative) content strategy rather than just posting what you think people want to hear or, even worse just creating content to generate links. Whilst thinking about writing this blog post I have read an unbelievable number of posts on how to be the ‘best content marketer you can be’ and how to be ‘a rock star’ and a million other equally disgusting titles that make me not want to work in marketing but what I feel people are really missing the point on is that if you want to make great content then think about what you personally would want to read, watch to engage with.
Online reputation management is never black and white and every case if different. But whether someone is posting on your company Facebook page, commenting on your blog or posting their own negative content independently from your social platforms there are a few simple things to have in mind before you respond.
Getting your response wrong could have catastrophic results. Have a read of this blog post I wrote for Speed Communications a while back on crisis management for brands. It outlines some great examples of how not to go about dealing with negative press.
The list below outlines a few of the basics. With this in mind and with some good old common sense you should in most cases be able to deal effectively with negative comments.
1. Be transparent: Honesty is always the best policy – Don’t try and counter act negative posts with fake positive ones! State who you are and that you are a representative of the company in question.
2. Fix obvious customer service problems, just as you would if a customer called your customer service line. Be honest and courteous in your reply. Doing so shows the online community that you are committed to putting the customer first, and that you clean up your mistakes. If you solve the poster’s problem quickly, you may even earn a positive follow-up post.
3. Respond individually and personally when applicable. Acknowledge their complaint and offer a public apology explaining how you are dealing with the problem.
4. Be polite and take their argument on board- Never, ever, fight fire with fire. This is only going to make matters worse and is likely to attract more attention possibly angering the community around the post.
5. Respond directly to the comment – Don’t use “bad plastic surgery” to try and cover it up. This will be detrimental and will make people more fixated in the negative comments
6. Counteract negative posts with evidence – If the person in question is in the wrong then prove it but not in a confrontational manner as this could just make things worse!
7. Build up a profile within forums where possible: If you are getting flack within forums then make sure you yourself are active in these spaces. There is no point just popping up and responding to criticism as you will have absolutely no credibility and are unlikely to be taken seriously. However, if people are used to seeing and hearing from you anyway and you are providing them with good content and advice then what you say will carry more weight.
8. Try and take the conversation offline : Do this after you have made a public response so that your initial response is visible to others who will have seen the negative post. Ask for an email address or give them yours and try to move the conversation away from the public sphere.
9. Contribute to the conversation by leaving comments, writing guest posts, or setting up a blog for your company. As in any community, members of these online hubs are more trusting of people and companies they hear from—so give them a change to get to know you.
10. Offer additional resources. If the negative post refers to a common customer service issue, leave a comment pointing the post’s author to your company’s resources surrounding the issue. If the post poses a new problem, add that issue to your company’s online support desk. Doing so will help to prevent future frustration for your customers. There’s no better way to take a proactive, positive stance on a negative blog post than to provide additional resources.
11. Consider the tone of voice for the specific platform (If someone posts on Twitter respond using the same tone of voice for that channel i.e. informal and direct)
12. Don’t respond to everything at once- If you are unfortunate to have loads of negative comments about you especially on the same website/forum then a) Think about why this many people feel the need to publicly spurn you and b) don’t just fly in and try to deal with them all at once.
13. Prioritise which posts should be responded to – With the previous point in mind, don’t respond to everything as this will be perceived as spammy and bad practise. Think about which is the most damaging and respond to this one first.
14. Back up your response with factual information – It’s always better for everyone involved that the response be substantive and informed, not hastily put together before all the facts are known and interested parties consulted.
15. If comment is false or factually incorrect, contact the blogger or webmaster and politely notify him/her that the information is incorrect. On some occasions you may be able to remove the comment.
16. When relevant link to an ‘official’ page on the site that will back up the claim, however you must be very careful when posting links, this can be viewed as spammy if done too much or if it leads to information that doesn’t directly support the comment.
You Tube has become a global online video phenomenon in the space of a few short years. The attraction is obvious; it provides a platform for anyone to share their content, lives and products with the world for free. No need for third party partners, TV companies or pitches. The content ranges from informative and interesting to the down right extraordinary. You Tube caters for every possible audience, taste and interest and can now boast to having an audience who watch more than 13 billion videos a month.
However as with all social media techniques and platforms, online video is still a relatively untapped technique for brands and is only now being recognised as powerful direct marketing and PR tool. Online video provides brands with an additional opportunity to tell consumers about themselves and their brand message. It also has PR benefits in that, if done properly, it provides a proactive opportunity to reinforce a positive perception of your brand. You can also utilise it for reactive reputation management as an additional response to any negative press.
With this in mind, brands are consistently failing to emulate the success that individuals and artists have had in utilising YouTube to propel themselves into the spotlight. The mistake many companies are making is that they consider video optimisation and social media in general things they ‘should be doing’ and consequently rush into setting up social channels with no real thought of what they want to achieve and what message they want to convey. Social media works, and works well provided that it is carefully thought out and factored in as part of an integrated marketing strategy.
Mashable published an insightful report exploring who was doing online video well and why. The results; ‘brands that achieve long-term success on YouTube are the ones that consistently and frequently publish refreshing content that has intrinsic value for audiences online.’ This reinforces what social media needs to be about; providing your audience with content they actually want, that is relevant, interesting and encourages interaction.
For success on You Tube there are a few simple techniques that will go along way to helping build a strong brand presence online.
- Build your own YouTube Channel and make it unique to you.
- Reap the SEO benefits and make your channel keyword rich with links back to your site.
- Create playlists and inject some personality into your brand.
- Don’t make your content too salesy or no one is going to want to watch it. If you are selling a service let people know about what you do but in an interesting and engaging way.
- Upload content regularly this will help you maintain a fresh presence and keep you relevant and visible.
- You Tube is a community. Use it as one! Interact with other people, send them messages and comment.
- Integrate You Tube with the rest of your social media strategy. Post it on Facebook, Tweet about it and most importantly encourage people to share it!
With Facebook and Bing in discussions over the dawn of ‘social search’ the way we look for information will continue to evolve and You Tube is sure to play a big part in this. Therefore it is worth investing some time and thought into what YouTube could do for your brand and laying the ground work for a successful campaign now before you get beaten to it.