As we continue to open our businesses in Middleton and begin to welcome visitors, it’s especially important to use care with online communications. Here are some tips that can help protect your businesses’ online reputation today and tomorrow.
- Your success is everyone’s success. The actions of each business are critical to the entire area’s recovery. It is imperative that whatever practices you put in place for reopening are followed consistently by your employees. If they are not, the ramifications to your business’s reputation (and the area’s) can be harsh and long lasting. Social media makes it possible for someone’s poor impressions or unpleasant experiences to travel quickly. Do not promise cleaning or social distancing practices you will not complete or enforce. Exercise patience to the greatest extent possible while emotions are running high, as squabbles with or among customers can be harmful to your (and Middleton’s) reputation.
- Choose your words carefully. The words you choose to use for your website and social posts can be interpreted politically in the current climate. It’s important to consider unintended meaning before you post or go live. Review your language to try to envision how someone on either side of the reopening debate might interpret what you’re saying and adapt your message accordingly.
- Use social media wisely. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on what people are saying about your business on social media, so have a plan to frequently check for any fan comments, direct messages and reviews. When a response is warranted, do so promptly, politely and not defensively. Apologize if you need to but avoid online arguments. Wherever possible, deescalate the situation and take it offline to discuss. Be as honest and genuine as possible.
- Ensure your contact information is up to date. Check the details of your social channels, as well as on your website, to avoid confusion among potential customers.
- Be clear with customers. However you choose to move forward with your business, make your plans clear in your social posts and be honest about your expectations for customers, as well as forthcoming about any new standards you are abiding by, in order to reassure customers of their safety. Do not promise things you aren’t actually doing. Be mindful that customers will make decisions based on the expectations you set. Customers have the opportunity to judge you — quickly and easily — online.
- Keep an eye on review sites. Experiences shared on social media will make their way to other review-based platforms as well, like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google Reviews. Keep an eye on what’s coming in, and as previously suggested, respond promptly and genuinely without escalating any situations. Leave a simple thank you for those who leave positive reviews. Remember, 90 percent of consumers say their decisions are influenced by online reviews, so you want to present your business as helpful and responsive.
- Get help from your customers. Word of mouth and testimonials are still the most trusted and used forms of marketing. Through mindful messaging and managing expectations, your customers can be your strongest advertisers. Don’t be afraid to ask them to share their positive experiences at your business. Their review, comment and post can be a powerful tool in your business recovery.