In the wild world of the internet, anyone can say anything, and your brands could take a hit.
By William Furney, PR & content strategist, Reachology
Things can get weird online. Fast. Everyone’s got the power of the pen, in the shape of a keyboard, and many are not afraid to use it. With so much digital engagement, there are real benefits for companies and their brands; but there are giant pitfalls too, and some firms end up in trouble over what people say about them on the internet.
Social media, especially, often riles people right up, and many feel they have the right to lash out, even if their online tirades are entirely unwarranted. It has led to an online environment that some companies have called “toxic”, for themselves and users, leading them to withdraw from social networks. For those that maintain their online presence, which is the overwhelming majority of firms, because that’s where their audience mostly is, the risks of brand damage remain all too real.
Disaster can happen in an instant, because all it takes is a disgruntled customer saying something negative about a company and suddenly a firm can find itself embroiled in a torrent of bad publicity. Many firms have fallen into the trap of trying to rescue themselves by almost arguing with detractors online, only to find themselves worse off as customers flee. By then, it’s definitely time to look up some effective digital PR services and exculpate yourself, showing that your brands are not at fault.
What are people saying about your company online?
There’s only one thing worse than being bad-talked about online, and that’s not knowing your company is being thrashed around the various echo-chambers of the internet. We see it all the time here at Reachology, and then brands wonder why their image is taking a nosedive and they can no longer get the online traction and engagement they used to.
Most companies have social media accounts, for example, linked from their website, but as the pressures of running a business mount – notably for start-ups and small businesses with limited staff – they’re often neglected and even relegated to a to-do list you never get around to doing. Months and even years can go by and still your social media is not updated with posts and you’ve no idea what people are even saying about you online, if anything at all.
In the digital era, it’s an unfortunate scenario where your company is not only losing out by failing to connect with potential new customers but it also opens up the all-too-real possibility of reputational and brand damage, because you simply don’t know what’s going on out there in the cybersphere. Why are people suddenly shunning your products and turning to competitors?
Using digital PR to control the narrative
Your company is a valuable and precious enterprise that you and others have spent large amounts of time, effort and capital nurturing into what it is today, a thriving business providing products and services as well as employment. You need to protect its image as much as you would your own premises and staff, and it starts with taking control of what’s going on online.
If you don’t have time to post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and the other social media platforms — it can surely feel like a full-time job — think about appointing a digital PR agency and their skilled social media personnel to do it for you. You need to know what people are saying in response to your posts, whether they’re one-liners, shares or links to new blog posts.
If someone starts having a go at your company, complaining about service, products or anything else, the best approach is to deal with them rapidly and nicely (not with anger), so that you diffuse what can erupt into an army of online users hitting out at your firm. Try, for instance, having the complainant contact you personally, either via phone, email or direct message, so you can try to resolve the problem. Listen to them and work out a solution, and perhaps offer something like a discount on future purchases, to make them happy and keep them as a customer.
Allowing problems to get out of hand online risks unleashing a tsunami of complaints that grows with bad press and risks enormous harm. You need to turn it to your advantage, at the outset, and contain the damage. The time to set your online agenda and control your company narrative is now.
Want to protect your brand image and company reputation online? Get a free consultation with the experts at leading UK digital PR agency Reachology now.