Companies need to take advantage of the fact that social media is a growing community. People are constantly using the web to search “information, recommendations, and entertainment.” It is important to be searchable and easily available to your audience because not only does it create a competitive advantage, but it also provides great customer service. With social media companies can build a relationship with their customers and quickly receive feedback.
‘The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media‘ created by the company MOZ, perfectly outlines how and why to use social media for your company.
REI is the perfect example of how a company can utilize the various social media platforms. On the REI website, they link their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram accounts. Facebook and Twitter are more general social media sites, where you can post and share a variety of things. On REI’s accounts, they post pictures, articles, volunteer work, and so forth. Pinterest is a site where people go to browse and get ideas by looking through pictures. On REI’s Pinterest, there is an assortment of boards with different categories ranging from their different products (snowboarding gear, women’s clothes, gifts under $50, etc.) to informative boards (camp recipes, expert advice, etc.). YouTube is commonly used for entertainment and ‘how to’ videos. REI’s channel includes member stories, expert advice, and places to travel. These videos are not about the products the store provides, but are fun and informative. Instagram is a place where you post pictures. On REI’s Instagram, they post artsy, scenic photographs.
With all these social media platforms, people are able to like and share the content that these companies are posting. It is a way to reach out to new people and maintain existing customers. Creating an online presence is also beneficial because it keeps your company in people’s frame of mind; reminding customers that you still exist. Which in turn may also create a desire. Starbucks, for example, will post pictures of their different bevarages and foods on their social media platforms. So later on when I get thirsty, I will crave their new Caramel Flan Frappuccino.
The Applebee’s Catastrophe
In February of 2013, Applebee’s had a social media meltdown in which they handled horribly; you can read about what happened here.
People are sharks on the Internet; ready to tear down anyone who makes the slightest of bad moves. Negative feedback is bound to happen, therefore companies need to be prepared for this. In the article ‘Reputation Management on Social Media,’ it provides advice on how to handle a situation gone wrong.
- Create a policy and stick to it. Applebee’s defended their actions by stating they have a strict policy for customer privacy, although the company had previously broken that rule and tried to hide the evidence. This makes the company look bad; you need to be consistent and honest with your customers.
- Do not add fuel to the fire. By arguing or justifying your actions, it will just make people more angry.
- Take a moment. Step away from the situation to think about it; this will also allow the people to calm down. Applebee’s was trying to quickly reply to everyone, which was not helping the situation whatsoever. Quick replies will lead to thoughtless responses. The company should have stuck with their original post and let it be for the night.
- Show empathy. Understand your audience and their concerns. It is important to maintain a relationship with them, which you may do so by listening to them.