Businesses are paying more attention to their social media presence. According to Fast Company, 93 percent of marketers say they’re using social media as part of an overall marketing strategy. Good relationships on social media take an almost geological timeframe to develop, but when things go wrong online, the message spreads like wildfire.
Enrolling in a graduate program that teaches strategic communications from a modern perspective can help you survive and thrive on social networks; click here to review some FAQs and learn how good schools equip tomorrow’s PR professionals. Social media success is about more than putting the right content on the right channels. It’s about establishing and maintaining credibility for your brand. When something goes wrong, credibility helps you bounce back; because you’ve built a good reputation, negativity doesn’t stick for long.
Toyota is about to pay a $1 billion settlement to the U.S. government over whether it gave false or incomplete disclosures about car defects. The company failed to report acceleration problems in its Lexus SUVs within the five-day window required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). When the NHTSA began to investigate customer complaints, Toyota took a full month to disclose 63 reports of unexplained acceleration in its SUVs. CoreBrand, a company that measures the favorability of over 1,000 brands across 54 industries, ranked Toyota as one of 10 companies facing significant credibility issues in 2013. The company’s failure to disclose its problems gave it the appearance of being unethical.
Scott Stratten, who wrote the book UnMarketing, suggests Twitter is the best place to start when building social media relationships because Twitter is a “give before you get” environment. He recommends starting your Twitter journey by interacting with thought leaders in your industry, sharing their content and giving them credit for their ideas and their innovations. Because Twitter is a generous community, people will start doing the same for you in return. Once you’ve established credibility on Twitter, think about expanding to other platforms and blogging. For example, Stratten sent over 10,000 tweets before he published his first blog.
Comcast established a Twitter handle, @ComcastCares, exclusively for helping customers troubleshoot Comcast products. What distinguishes @ComcastCares from other customer support Twitter handles is Comcast has staffed the channel with tech support and troubleshooting experts. Comcast is solidifying its credibility by providing customers with helpful and concrete information, which reinforces its “Comcast Cares” moniker.
Gary Vaynerchuk got started on social media as host of the “Wine Library TV” video podcast. He’s since gained a reputation as a social media mastermind and has become a serial entrepreneur. He uses his genuine demeanor as a way to get the customer’s attention in a world of what he calls “ADD at scale.” Vaynerchuk’s personality isn’t for everyone, but those who love him are fiercely loyal, and his advice on social media marketing is second to none.
Since the premiere of “Fast Food Nation,” McDonald’s has tried to master cognitive dissonance by marketing salads alongside Big Macs. Its healthy eating campaign took a hit in 2013 after a Reddit user posted an image of a frozen McRib. The post spurred a flurry of news stories about what was really inside a McRib sandwich; for instance, a McDonald’s hamburger bun contains 34 ingredients. As a result, the company has earned the ire of groups like Corporate Accountability and has failed to bolster its reputation for healthiness.
Barefoot Cellars once put the wrong barcode on one store’s cabernet shipment, which caused the wine to ring up at a lower price. The founders, Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, went to the store and presented the owner with a check covering both the lost money and expenses incurred while dealing with the mistake. The founders’ integrity and willingness to correct the mistake with their customers led to stunning success for Barefoot. Houlihan explains, “what people recall most of all is how you handle missteps and errors, not what they were.”
Credibility matters more to a brand than putting the right content onto the right social channels. Companies that fail to build credibility first will never truly succeed at strategic communications.