Today’s post comes from Webs’ resident social expert, Social Media Manager Irina Kabigting.

Social media channels have the power to make or break your brand. When creating your a social media strategy for your brand, it is important to take the time to figure out how your brand elements and attributes translate into the social world and what you can do to protect them.

How to Elevate Your Brand on Social Channels

1. Be Active Where It Matters. Niche social media channels are popping up all the time and while new portals may seem appealing, it is important to have an active presence where majority of your customers like to hang out.

2. Keep it Consistent. Once you have decided upon your brand attributes, all social channels need to reflect them in a consistent manner.  If you are not sure how to properly execute this, take queue from the larger brands. For example think about Walt Disney. The company’s slogan is “Where Dreams Come True”. If you take a look at their social channels the company communicates and uses imagery that supports their brand elements in a consistent manner.

Another great example is M&M’s. The brand’s Facebook page posts status updates from the Brand Spokescandies:

3. Focus on the customer, not yourself. Key to any good marketing strategy is to provide customers with what they want, a lot of the times brands fail to make their customers the primary focus of social channels and start focusing too much on advertising and self interests. Focusing on your customers will help to guide your social content strategy and help to build an engaging portal between your brand and the customers.

4. Remove barriers. Be approachable, friendly and provide a clear channel to address any issues/questions your customers have.

5. Listen to Feedback. Once you have established your brand on social channels, it is important to proactively listen and monitor what customers are saying about you and the products you sell and to reply to them in a timely manner. Not to worry, this doesn’t have to be a manual task. There are a lot of great tools available to help you achieve this task.

– Topsy: Quick and easy tool that allows you to search across multiple social channels and analyze customer feedback. You can search by keywords, links, tweets, photos, videos and also see what’s trending.

– Google Alerts: Receive email updates on the latest relevant Google results based on your keywords. This is a great and quick way to enter your brand name into the search query and monitor to see when it is mentioned online.

– Mentions: Just like Google Alerts, this service allows you to set up social media alert for your business brand.

Lessons Learned from Resent Brand Social Epic-Fails
A good social media strategy should also include a plan for how to handle negative feedback and PR nightmares. Here are a few examples of resent social epic-fails from some big brands and what we all can learn from them.

In January of this year, the HMV social media manager tweeted live about the company’s firing of employees.

Lesson Learned: It is important to ensure the person responsible for managing your social media channels is someone that is vested in the wellbeing and positive perception of your company and your brand. While it might be easier to outsource tasks of managing social channels to your friends and family, ensure their vision aligns with yours.

In 2012, McDonalds decided to create a Twitter campaign to encourage customers to share positive stories related to their products using the hashtag #McDStories. Unfortunately the campaign failed when Twitterverse hijacked the hashtag by sharing negative feedback and the event was further multiplied by the coverage it received in the news.

The company did comment on the incident, however this comment was greatly overshadowed by the negative backlash everyone remembers.

Lesson learned: Social channels can have both positive and negative impact on your brand. When planning your promotions, it is important to create exit strategy in case the campaign doesn’t go the way you hope.

A friend of the waitress that received a low tip posts details of the event online, for which the company fires her.

Applebee’s received a huge backlash from the social community of people demanding the fired employee get her job back. The company issued a statement that explained their actions but 12 hours after the statement was posted, in the middle of the night, the person managing their social channels started to defensively talk back to customers.

Lesson learned: It is important to have a consistent and timely response to customers when something negative takes place. In addition, if your page is flooded with feedback and you choose to respond to each person, it is important to make each commenter feel that you are responding to their individual feedback. Copy and pasting identical responses can add more fuel to the fire.

The Big Takeaways:
The success of your business brand on social channels depends on proper planning and execution of various moving parts:

1. Review all existing social media profiles for your brand to ensure consistent usage of brand elements and messaging.

2. Create regular schedule to keep social channels up to date and listen to customer feedback.

3. Always have a worst-case-scenario plan on standby.

About the Author: Irina Kabigting is Webs’ Social Media Marketing Manager. Get more from Irina on Webs’ Blog and Google+.

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