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What’s your brand reputation is in the digital space? Here are the factors involved in truly helping you connect with customers and develop a positive Social ID.

JANUARY 26, 2015

What’s your Social ID? What identifies your brand (personal or corporate) throughout your social media interactions and offerings? If your answer starts with the colors of your website, you need to think very carefully about where you’re focusing your brand identity efforts. I’m not suggesting that colors and logos and graphic elements aren’t important, but I am suggesting that the way you interact with others online ismore important. That’s what will catch the most attention … and hold it the longest.

Your Social ID is really a measure of two things: 1) the way yousocially comport yourself online, and 2) your brand reputation in the digital space. So what does that really mean? What specific actions does a Social ID include? No matter what your brand purpose is or what products and/or services you provide, all of the following factors can influence your Social ID:

  • Responsiveness: How responsive are you in your social communications? Are you monitoring the right channels? Do you have a social governance policy in place so your employees know what to share and how to respond? In the old days, the squeaky wheel got the oil. But today’s digital natives require more than form letters in response to complaints. They want attention from you on the social channels they prefer, and they want it now. But they also watch how you respond not just to complaints, but to inquiries, suggestions and kudos from other people. In short, you need to develop a top-down customer service attitude across your social profiles and keep it real.
  • Thought Leadership: How innovative are your ideas? Are you content to say what’s already been said, or do you share your unique insights to provide real value to your audience? Whether or not you realize it, your audience is watching what you say (and what you don’t say) and comparing notes with your competitors. Stagnant feeds and haphazard posting has a negative impact on your social reputation.
  • Content Creation: Are you just re-hashing the other guy’s information, or are you creating new content in new ways your audience can use and re-use on your behalf? We all have to be publishers in today’s world and differentiate ourselves from the pack. Develop a robust content strategy, and empower your employees and customers to share that content on their own feeds. Everyone has a sphere of influence. It’s been said that content is still king, but engagement is queen, and she rules the house! Use that to your advantage.
  • Relevance: Do you pay enough attention to your audience to know what is relevant to them right now? If you’re not listening closely to your current customers and prospects, asking them the right questions and getting to know them as individuals, you’ll be “tweeting to the wind.” The only way to stay relevant is to shut up and listen, and no automation tool is better than manually visiting the social profiles of your customers and listening to their conversations to get a sense of what they’re all about. Do the work—and scale it by having your employees do the same.
  • Demeanor: How do you come across to your audience? Are your interactions friendly, helpful, gracious and authentic, or do they suggest you’re tired, annoyed or not being genuine? Just because a conversation is happening on digital channels doesn’t mean you can disrespect people, be impolite or rude. Would you dare to treat a customer as a second-class citizen in a face-to-face conversation? Of course not! When in doubt, just be nice. Remember, people are watching how you treat others online.

Every one of these areas is important because a positive Social ID fuels positive word of mouth and creates brand advocates. What value are you providing for those with whom you interact? Think about it carefully and put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Changing your perspective will help you make the changes you need so your Social ID works for you, not against you.

Shift Your Thinking

Developing your Social ID requires a basic shift in thinking, from an advertising mindset to one of bringing value to your customers. Don’t keep pitching them with sales messages—provide them with rich content and authentic interaction instead.

People just want to be treated like people, not targets. Companies that get this right are constantly striving to be more customer-centric. They wrap social around all their business processes instead of just using it as a marketing platform. That kind of thinking is essential because you can no longer control the conversation. It’s how you act, rather than what you look like, that influences how people feel about your brand, so forward-thinking companies are always engaging with the customer. They concentrate on building relationships and trust rather than “branding themselves” on social channels.

Consistent Customer Experience Is Key

How you act, what you share, and how you treat people on social channels is critical to developing a positive Social ID, but if I were to have to sum it all up in one phrase, that phrase would be “customer experience.” Providing great customer experiences results in “super” fans or brand evangelists who shout your praises to everyone they know. People don’t become brand advocates because they like your logo. They become advocates when they receive consistently great experiences every time you connect with them.

In today’s world, the phrase “your reputation precedes you” can be good or it can be bad. Make sure it’s good by concentrating on listening, being responsive, giving value and being nice to people. A brand is what a business does; a reputation is what people remember and share. Deliver positive customer experiences at every opportunity, and you can’t go wrong.

Read more articles about social media.

Photo: Getty Images

Originally posted JANUARY 26, 2015 American Express OPEN Forum blog

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