Will Hanke

5 Smart Tips for Managing Your Business's Social Media Reputation

It is critical now more than ever to manage your online data security and reputation. We live in the information age, and what you say or do online can have a massive effect on how people perceive your business. In a single instant, it is possible for business owners to reach out and connect with hundreds, or even thousands, of customers and leads.

But your audience is likely composed of very diverse types of people, and people have never been more opinionated than they are these days. As such, there are some actions you should take on social media platforms, as well as some things to avoid, to make sure that you don't needlessly offend your audience or erode hard-won trust in your business.

If you share a fake hoax on your business page or make a wrong comment, you can easily drive leads away from your website or enrage your audience. So before you like, share, post, tweet, or take other actions on social media platforms, remember to keep the following in mind.

1. Checking News Validity

Right now two hot buttons in the media are “fake news” and “alternative facts.” While these two terms have political roots, the Internet has long been a source of false news stories, fake viral videos, and hoaxes. Unless the video or story is clearly a hoax and aligns in some way with your audience and business, it is best to stay away and abstain from interacting with these types of stories and posts.

Sometimes it is easy to be fooled and hoodwinked by clever storytellers, but I think most people have at least a kernel of doubt in their minds when they see a hoax. If you get that inkling, make sure you do your homework before sharing the post from your account, like it, re-tweeting it, etc. When in doubt, do a Google search on the content in question. Check for validity before sharing.

2. Don't Stoop to the Level of Trolls and Moderate Comments

Whether you use Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform, chances are that you are presented with inflammatory posts every time you log in. Heck, you don't even have to use social media. Just about every forum online, every chat room, and every box where an idiot can post text has been graced with the presence of a troll.

Trolls have been an inherent part of the Internet for years now, but the increase in social media use has made trolling more prevalent than ever before. It doesn't matter if you mind your own business and treat others with respect. Once in a while, if you are in view of the public in an online format, you are going to attract a troll's attention through no fault of your own (and I wouldn't recommend provoking them).

If you find yourself in a troll's cross-hairs, make sure you don't give them any more ammunition.

Though it may feel tempting to try to defend your point of view, argue, or show that troll what's what, in the end, you will only end up looking foolish. By the same token, if a troll starts bantering on comment systems on your website, it is best to nip the problem in the bud by moderating offensive content (hate speech, cursing, intentionally inflammatory statements that are off-topic, spam, etc.). Otherwise, you may find that the comment sections on your content pages turn into a troll's playground.

3. Separating Personal and Professional Accounts

Though it should be common sense, you will also want to make sure that your business's social media accounts don't cross with your personal life. For instance, you don't want to make the mistake of posting the wrong pictures (those of your family, birthday, graduation, etc.) on your business page. Furthermore, it may not be a good idea to tag family members in business posts or use them to distribute content.

Even though family members may be happy to help advertise your business and share links, the line between your business and personal life begins to fade. The last thing you want is for strangers to find links to family members' accounts or other personal content. It is best to keep things separate.

4. A Note on Hashtags

Hashtags have been used to organize protests, start movements, advertise businesses, and strengthen communities. However, the true meaning of a trending hashtag may not be obvious or readily apparent. You want to make absolutely sure you don't tweet a message with the wrong hashtag.

The solution is pretty simple, too. Just do your homework ahead of time and research the meaning of a hashtag. For instance, just take a look at the terribly callous Cairo hashtag blunder among Business Insider's list of top twitter fails. Likewise, the “NotGuilty” hashtag mistake was meant to be an innocuous joke about eating tasty foods but was instead correlated with the outcome of a court trial.

These kinds of mistakes can devastate a business's reputation, so take a little bit of time to research existing hashtags and their meanings before using them.

5. Religion and Politics

They say you are not supposed to talk about religion and politics (as well as one other subject) at a dinner party to avoid turning pleasant conversations into fierce arguments. Though there are some digital marketing exceptions, by and large, it isn't a good idea to stir the pot by prodding at controversial topics.

I suppose obvious exceptions to this rule would be religious groups and news-centered organizations that have an online presence. However, if you are just trying to capture leads for a small local business or online storefront, there is no reason to engage in these topics. Even if you are highly opinionated, remember that many of your leads may not share the same opinions as you. And in the end, the goal is to attract new customers, not to drive them away.

Final Thoughts

Take great care before posting something on social media platforms from your business account, and make sure your personal life doesn't bleed over from ancillary profiles. You want to make sure that you connect with your audience purely via industry-related content and appropriate humor.

Sticking to a strategy will help you do so, tracking social media metrics that will allow you to review how each post is engaged with. This will help you pinpoint where you're connecting with your audience.

Be aware though, straying outside the bounds of your industry (with few exceptions) could accidentally offend large chunks of your audience and erode their trust in you. Lastly, if this all seems like too much work, then perhaps it's time to reach out to a professional. There are ways to schedule your posts automatically via Twitter, Facebook, and social media content delivery, but managing a digital marketing campaign really is a full-time job.

Social media has become so much more than just a commonplace platform for communication, it has evolved into an integral part of digital marketing. Businesses from all over the world turn to social networks, which help both big and small companies reach out to consumers. However, this marketing arena is getting more competitive by the day. The good news is...

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Thanks for the Update
Hey Will, I agree with you, don't stoop to someone else's level but I think it's SUPER important to answer every single comment or piece of feedback you get online. People always want to see the other side and it shows great resolve and confidence when a brand responds to a complaint.
Ben Kazinik
I agree. That's why I'm replying here now :) Seriously though, it builds your authority and also gives you a 'second chance' to get your brand in front of the person leaving the comment as well.
Hey…. Will Hanke! Your second points “Don't Stoop to the Level of Trolls and Moderate Comments” is excellent. But, if you have ability respond public in a right and efficient manner, then you won’t ever have to deal with trolling. Agree?

Suraj Padmasali
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suraj padmasali
You're right, Suraj. Although I think many business owners tend to get very defensive and often come across as arrogant when responding to trolls. They just need to be very careful and thoughtful before hitting that Reply button!
I love your article, the points and tips are clearly understood. For example, mixing business and personal social media accounts is a no no for a successful marketing campaign. You want to give your audience a reason to keep coming back for more quality content. But how would they come back if instead of giving them info that will help their business, your feeding them stories and images about your kids?

How about politics & religion? Your target audience are not following you for latest political updates. They want to improve their skills and grow their businesses. So, let everything take place accordingly.

Amazing tips!
Moss Clement
Thanks Moss. Different businesses have different standards, too. Some prefer the more personal 'mom-n-pop' personality, while others are purely corporate. I think the diversity adds character to their brand, but they need to be careful about some topics!
"Unless the video or story is clearly a hoax and aligns in some way with your audience and business, it is best to stay away and abstain from interacting with these types of stories and posts."

Yep, I see brands hurting themselves this way all the time. Great tips.
Melissa Fach
Melissa isn't it amazing that businesses still fall into this trap nowadays?!
Trolls are definitely the number one thing my clients worry about but like mentioned in the article, they're always going to be around. And it's unfortunate to see some companies be the topic of a "social media fail". I'll definitely be sharing this article with my clients, thanks, Will!
Beverley Theresa
Thanks for the comment, Beverley! (from a non-troll!)
I like how you stress the importance of a brand doing their research before hitting the post/publish/update button. In a post I wrote awhile back (https://www.topdraw.com/blog/online-brand-management-how-a-nicole-arbour-tweet-almost-spoiled-a-food-brand/) I actually witnessed a big social media guffaw in action. I did my best to help the brand out because I felt sorry for them. The sad thing is I see brands making the same mistakes every single day.
Melanie Nathan
Melanie, a lot of businesses try to emulate others and they just end up spreading more misinformation. Ugh!
It's weird, as someone that works in digital marketing and public relations, keeping your branded social media professional is a no-brainer. And yet I regularly see brands being incredibly inflammatory or outright rude on social media. I guess a big part of social media is how there is no bar for entry, huh?
Nicola Yap
You're right, Nicola. I think many of them just don't value it and therefore fail to see how it could hurt their brand.
Take great care before posting something on social media platforms from your business account, and make sure your personal life doesn't bleed over from ancillary profiles. its good idea , you so smart thx Will Hanke i love you
Heh thanks for the kind words. I have to admit I've accidentally posted on my business twitter account something that should have only been on my personal account. Luckily I realized it and quickly remedied the situation!
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