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Enhance and Protect Your Brand and Reputation!

Did you know, according to Jay Baer, marketing consultant and author, that:

  • 42% of Americans who complain on social media expect a response within an hour?
  • 24% expect a response within 30 minutes?
  • 57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during regular hours?

“The voice is louder on social media,” said Kyle Lacy, senior manager of content marketing and research for Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing.

Why is it louder?  Because people know they wield a weapon you’ll pay attention to, especially when you feel its sting. On television, in print, on computers and phones, people are watching and expressing approval or frustration.  If you run a business, you can’t afford to mindlessly frustrate and upset customers or staff. Depending upon their conscience and temper, one person can use social media to take you and your business down in minutes and harm your reputation for years.

We are living in a fish bowl and it grows larger everyday. What was once reserved for celebrities is now true for all.  You can get stressed about it, ignore it or embrace the opportunities in it. Here are a few suggestions for how to enhance and protect your brand and reputation:

  1. Promote responsibility. Prepare your staff to effectively address disgruntled customers and employees by training them to build caring, cooperative relationships and take responsibility for outcomes.
  2. Boost your reputation by telling great stories and asking great questions.  Einstein said, “You can’t solve problems from a problem-orientation.”  Most people don’t realize the power of positive stories and positive questions about what has, is, and can work. Keep social media positive by initiating and steering positive conversations.
  3. Improve communications.  Effective exchanges on social media should build trust, facilitate direct requests, express frustrations in a productive way, cultivate encouragement, address elephants with care, improve listening and receptivity, disclose ideas and feelings safely, empower people, stop gossip and inspire meaningful action. Provide your team with communications training so they are competent.
  4. Learn to redirect negative behavior.  Most people react rather than respond when fears escalate.  Maybe people feel a false sense of safety behind their keyboards but social media is a tool that can quickly become toxic.  Whether in person or online, responding to negative behavior requires slowing down, becoming self-aware, and self-managing.  Encourage your staff to hesitate and ask themselves, “What and how can I address this person in a manner that improves the relationship?”
  5. Create positive connections.  Everyone wants to feel a sense of belonging and significance. Consciously seek ways to help customers and staff feel empowered, lovable, connected and contributing and know they belong and matter in the circle of your business.
  6. Build trust by engaging in eight crucial values. Promote expressions of straightforwardness, honesty, receptivity, disclosure, respect, recognition, evidence of excellence and follow-through on commitments.  Social media, like any medium, is best delivered when your intention comes from high purpose.
  7. Lead your industry.  Your culture is your brand.  Determine to influence how people feel, think, speak, and act by developing your healthy culture. This happens when you create a custom blueprint for how to operate at your best by training your people in social and emotional intelligence skills, including when online.

Business executives, community leaders and educators hire Lifework Systems because they want the competitive advantage of a healthy workplace where conscientious, caring employees attract customers and help grow their business. Judy Ryan (judy@LifeworkSystems.com), human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Her mission is to help people create lives and jobs they love. She can be reached at 314-239-4727.

As published in St. Louis Small Business Monthly, July 2014