As a business owner, everything you do is under scrutiny. This includes what you say in the world of social media as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is finding out the hard way. But other things, like the kind of content you decide to put on your Website, the validity of your claims about products or services, even the feedback left by your customers on review sites and how you react to that feedback, are important too. The way you communicate with your customers and the public is changing. Improving the way you talk about your company and how you react to what others say about you may be one of the biggest challenges you face as an entrepreneur. Be sure you get it right.
Too much information. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings may be in hot water over a post on his Facebook page back in June when he announced the news that customers of the streaming video provider have watched more than one billion hours of content on the service, a significant milestone. The problem, according federal authorities, has to do with whether Facebook was an appropriate channel over which to release information that should have been more formally shared with investors. There are so many ways to have a conversation about your business. Be sure you use discretion. Reuters
Wrong choice of words. Matthew Inman, creator of the edgy website The Oatmeal, is used to upsetting readers from time to time with his taboo subject matter and crude drawings. In fact, Inman’s bad boy style has become an important part of his brand and something that brings fans back to his site again and again. Inman is also running a business with an online shop that sells books, gifts, and other products featuring his humor, artwork, and writing. So, it’s interesting to see what happens when the bad boy brand and his business interests collide, as they did again recently when some of his readers seemed to feel he’d crossed the line. (This post includes some language not appropriate for viewing at work.) The Oatmeal
Things We Said Today
To tell the truth. Small business owners know all about the importance of creativity when marketing products and services. Remember, however, that there are regulations, here in the U.S. and in many countries, governing claims you make about what your products and services can do. Make sure you are familiar with the rules in your country, and if your business is located in the U.S., be sure to review the relevant regulations including the Federal Truth-in-Advertising Laws. Avoid action by the Federal Trade Commission or your state government by making sure claims you make when communicating with customers conform to the rules. SBA.gov
Review your options. Communication between your company and the public isn’t a one way street. Feedback comes in many forms, including comments on review sites like Yelp and Trustpilot. These sites can intimidate some businesses at first, says blogger Anthony Karibian. However, if you are providing great products and services there is no need to worry. Review sites can be great for marketing your business with testimony from customers who’ve become your biggest fans. bOnline Blog
Freedom of Speech
Learn to take criticism. By contrast, reacting badly or inappropriately to customer feedback can hurt your brand, even when you’re sure you’re in the right. Take, for example, the instance of a building contractor that sued a woman for leaving a negative review the company claimed was defamation. A court agreed and awarded damages, writes marketer Nick Stamoulis, but the company lost in the court of public opinion. Users left angry comments on the review site, infuriated over the company’s treatment of a customer. Brick Marketing Blog
It’s not as bad as it seems. In fact, customer complaints may actually be a good thing, writes marketing CEO Gee Ranasinha. After all, customer complaints can show us where we can improve the quality of our product or service. “Complaints show where the supplier/customer experience breaks down,” explains Ranasinha. “You get a chance to improve the buying process, quality control, and maybe learn a thing or two about how your product or service is being used in the wild.” Kexino
The invisible brand. When starting your business, bad press may be the least of your problems. For many business owners, the real challenge is trying to get people just to pay attention. You may think that a simple DIY marketing approach is all you need. The truth is that it may be harder than you think, writes Alex Hinojosa, a public relations expert. He tells the story of a father who hired an agency to assist his recently published daughter promote her book as a holiday gift. Business owners know the importance of good publicity. It’s imperative to your success. EMSI
That’s never happened to me
I have never inserted my foot in my oral cavity. Seriously though…we do have to careful what we say online. I keep telling my daughter that…college recruiters do look at Facebook etc. The Franchise King®
From an HR standpoint, social media rules seem to change daily. But, as time goes on, we’re beginning to understand what can and cannot be said by employers and their employees. The best thing to do is have a comprehensive Social Media Policy that all employees are aware of and doesn’t leave anything to change or question. Specifically outlining what can and cannot be said and on what social networks, along with examples will eliminate the gray and avoid problems in the future.
Great post and link roundup. It’s very important that we as small business owners are aware of what we’re sharing on the social networks, the content we publish and what it says about our brand. It can be rather difficult to combat negative reviews and the public can be unforgiving. Thanks for sharing this.
This is one of the reasons my agency loves to do what we do. As business owners we have an emotional attachment with our brand that cause us to make claims and react to criticism in bias ways. These can get a brand in a tough situation if not properly thought out and looked at objectively. This reason alone may be a big enough reason for companies that can’t bring a social media department/hire to outsource.