transparencyGiving undisguised insights into your organization and inviting others to a dialogue can help you to succeed in your business field. The more you open up, the more point of contacts you provide to others, and the closer you get to your customers. Ideally, you even generate loyalty.

Social media has little in common with a pure marketing or sales channel, although this misconception is still prevalent in many companies. In social media it’s all about communication with customers.

Face the truth

Don’t forget that social media communication is a two way street: If you are active on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs, you can not only offer the information, but must also expect unexpected behavior of your customers and respond appropriately.

Today’s real-time communication is simply not allowing a dive away in a crisis situation, making it impossible to ignore unpleasant questions of customer and multipliers. Those waiting for official answers and emphasizing a lack of jurisdiction lose credibility in the public debate.

Companies must learn to listen and can’t block out the digital world. If you are under public scrutiny, because a product is faulty, or a person has done wrong, you should not create a communication crisis out of it to top it off.

Appreciate social media as a chance to have a dialogue, even - and especially - in bad times, so that you don’t lose your reputation capital. It will ultimately pay back.

So, if the person responsible in your PR department should not be willing to do the job, you have to think about a replacement, since it gives the impression that coping with the challenges of the modern age is a problem. Fact is that in times of crisis, you can’t afford digital ignorance.

Offer added values

Your social media activities won’t be interesting for many of your stakeholders without clear added values. Therefore, your content has to be compelling and relevant. Be assured, the effort is worthwhile, because your brand fans are very critical to your business success.

Thus, provide your customers with reasons for recommending your products or services.

Take them through your content as easily as possible.

Give out stock photos, videos and texts, for instance, to meet customer needs.

Exclusive events and discounts have a direct effect on your reputation as well.

Try not to bore anyone with your content. Entertainment is important for success. Customers and employees do not only want to just get good information, they expect having fun with great stories or videos, too. Storytelling is appreciated and seduces those people online to revisit a blog, a Facebook page or subscribe to Twitter feeds.

Since markets are places of communication, allow your customers to talk to one another about their issues and your brand. Encourage dialogue and take part in it.

Don’t control the conversation, but make clear that you are listening as active monitoring and recording of customer feedback will improve your products and services even further.

And last but not least, let your personality shine. Anonymous staff won’t create confidence for your organization, instead present transparency and credibility to build long-term trust.

By Daniela La Marca