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Social studies

19 Oct 11

It is easy for new businesses to forget that being online, particularly in social media, means your business is under a public lens. Many businesses have to find out the hard way that you may be able to tweet in your pyjamas, but it’s not always a good idea to tweet about your pyjamas.


Plan 

Don’t go in blind. Before you start, decide what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. Can you afford the time involved or is this a task better delegated? Not all online channels are right for all businesses.  Twitter may work well for the cafe up the road but add little value to a construction company’s online presence.


Research 

Spend some time watching other companies who are already using the channels you want to use. Find out if people are already talking about your business, and what they are saying. Find out which complementary businesses are already engaged online and how you can work to support each other. Doing the research first helps avoid embarrassment later.


Join

Once you have found the right channel and are comfortable you know what is being said and by whom, jump in. Just remember:

- Be organised: don’t post haphazardly and with no forethought. In the early days, write a plan and then adjust it as you learn what your followers/fans/clients/suppliers want from you.

- Be committed: if you are both visible and vocal, then disappear for months, you will lose credibility. Equally, don’t expect results immediately; give your online presence time to grow.

- Be transparent: Let people know you are representing your business and why you are present in your chosen channels.


Manage negative feedback

Be prepared for negative feedback and remember at times it may be justified – at least from a client’s point of view. Don’t ignore it or delete it, unless it abusive and clearly unjustified, in which case be sure to deal to it appropriately. If it is justified, answer politely and promptly, and if you promise to take action, follow through. Remember, how you respond to complaints says more about your company and its integrity than how you cope when things are good. 

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