The Internet reaches farther every day, providing a presence for everything from multinational corporations to elementary schools and local bakeries. Professional websites aren’t new, but with the recent explosion of social media sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and Facebook, more businesses are looking at how to use social media to bolster brands and reputations online.
Michael Zammuto Reputation Changer President points to a recent article on SunSentinel.com. Lynn University, a private institution with fewer than 3,000 students, recently won public relations awards for a vigorous social media campaign the school conducted as the host of the final 2012 presidential debate. Using Facebook and Twitter strategically, the school not only garnered press attention for the debate, but hundreds of thousands of impressions on Facebook and millions of tweets about the event.
The campaign not only bolstered the school’s reputation online, but resulted in $13 million in immediate economic impact for the community.
Social media can work against you as well as for you, however. The goal is to know how to avoid the most common pitfalls and emphasize a positive Internet reputation instead.
As Michael Zammuto points out, sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest are a perfect place to create an online personality that will work with, and even enhance, a professionally maintained website. Ideas to try include:
- A Twitter account to represent a brand. Regular tweets with useful information related to a brand’s specific industry are an excellent first step. Even individuals in business can use Twitter. Tweet about updates in dentistry or nutrition by linking to trending news stories. It keeps a brand name online in a positive way.
- Use Facebook to announce new products or services, or even coming events. Facebook has more than a billion current users, and 166 million of them reside in the U.S. It’s one of the easiest ways to reach a lot of people.
- Google+ offers a convenient way to explore an industry even more deeply. Create blog posts about a brand or service, explaining its uses, its appeals, its history. Fresh new content is a way to keep potential customers coming back to the site.
- Pinterest is extremely popular visual medium now. Its format allows users to create pin boards centered on specific interests. For instance, a university might use a Pinterest account to create boards such as Campus Life, Traditions or Welcome, with photos to illustrate each area.
Social media requires its own maintenance, however. As more and more people use the Internet to communicate with each other, complaint boards and review sites such as Yelp.com are becoming more common. Today, consumers are eager to share their opinions or air grievances.
Responding to negative remarks directly isn’t the most effective way to combat them, Michael Zammuto explains. Instead, make sure to flood sites with positive content about a brand or business. Make sure positive reviews or new stories are featured frequently, on all social media sites. Keep profiles on sites like Yelp.com current and packed with good press about the brand, business or individual. Never address bad reviews or complaints directly, because it draws more attention to those less complimentary remarks.
Most important is not to ignore the serious impact social media can have online. By not taking advantage of sites like Twitter or Facebook, brands and individuals miss the opportunity to keep beneficial content in front of the public. According to Michael Zammuto, doing nothing is the easiest way for negative impressions of a brand to take firm hold, and that ultimately impacts the bottom line.