by: Matt Rhodes

For our first post of the new year, I wanted to touch on two questions that often crop up when we talk to clients about their online presence and how they are and could use social media:

  1. “If somebody talks about us online, should we respond?”
  2. “If we respond, what is the best way of doing this?"

This can be a difficult set of questions for brands to answer. If they engage they fear they may open the metaphorical floodgates and end up having to find and then respond to every mention of their brand online. If they don’t engage they fear that they are losing control of the brand. Our approach has typically been to discuss a set of real-life scenarios with them from blogs, social networks and online communities, and then establish when and where it is appropriate to engage as part of their social media strategy - what do they hope to achieve from engaging and so how should they do this.

Of course, this still leaves a lot of unanswered questions about how to act in specific circumstances and what we’ve really wanted is to have a crib sheet for these brands. And it seems that we might now have just that, courtesy of what might at first seem an unlikely source: the US Air Force.

I really like this approach, for four reasons:

  1. It recognises that it is not always appropriate to “join the conversation”. Just as you wouldn’t unnecessarily go over and join a conversation about your brand you might hear in a restaurant, it’s not always appropriate online. Assess when you should and shouldn’t talk and then so it in an appropriate way.
  2. It emphasise the importance of honesty online. The first instruction when you respond online is to identify who you are and where you’re from. This is really important online.
  3. It lets you differentiate between different types of negative posts. Not all negativity is the same and sometimes it doesn’t make sense to respond and sometimes it does.
  4. It’s easy to remember and follow. Any process needs to fulfill all your needs but be simple. This has the beauty of simplicity.

Some more reading

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