Why Professionals Shouldn't Be Shy On Social Media
A great deal of businesses have a hard time not only finding their voice on social media, but justifying putting themselves out there at all. Some industries like finance, legal practices, professional services, and beyond have their fair share of difficulties dealing with negative reviews, online trolls, and regulatory standards on what they can or can't say publicly. Here's the thing - they're right to be discouraged, but there may be a better way than just avoiding the dark underbelly of the social media beast.
The truth is, you, your business and your products or services are going to get talked about regardless of whether you're there or not. Being active on social media, on your website and on review sites like Yelp, Google, etc., just means you've at least got a seat at the table to discuss your point of view and state your case. Even if you or your staff have messed up and caused someone to have a legitimate grievance with your company, by listening to social media channels for this you've opened up the door for your second chance at making things right, or at least showing your intentions for doing so. It's not always going to be perfect, but if you control the message (or at least help shape it), you're going to slow down or reverse the snowball effect.
The key to being proactive with social media is to take all things into consideration - the good, the bad, and the potentially panic-inducing. The biggest three obstacles are: figuring out what you can say despite what limits you might have, dealing with online reviews and dealing with the internet's most unfortunate creation - the online troll.
Messaging and Content
Often professionals in industries like legal services or law firms, dental practices, accounting or payroll have a tough time communicating what they do with their business. Is the topic too dry? Too niche? Just generally uninteresting? The key is to shift your organization's marketing mindset around that and come up with a voice that satisfies both your expertise and your business' messaging, and the demands of your ideal reader or customer.
Just because you practice copyright law, doesn't mean that there isn't an audience who wants to listen to you talk about your passion. With the current state of social media, it's also possible to have a niche audience that serves two purposes: first and foremost, they are potential customers to your business. If they're located near you and here of you, they're more likely to look into you further and utilize you. Second, if they're not a potential customer or client but they're interested in your work, then their engagement with your content will simply add clout and bolster your social proof to those that are potential customers to help make your appear more credible and likeable.
Our past and present clients rely on referrals, reviews and word of mouth to get new and repeat business. Social media and online review sites are just the platforms that word of mouth now happens on. In past years before the internet and social media were where they are today, you'd have to literally be in the room for every conversation, rant, or rave to get your chance to rebut a bad review. Now, they're posted publicly and you're able to reply publicly. There is proof that responding to online comments and criticism, even when negative, is better than no response at all (study: New research proves that RESPONDING to negative feedback online benefits companies).
Sometimes you simply can't please someone. Sometimes you've rubbed someone the wrong way. But sometimes you deal with someone who is only taking up your time for ulterior motives. The truth is, dealing with these kinds of online engagements can cost you time and stress, but until you've made it clear where your brand stands and allowed the troll to reveal themselves as such, you unfortunately have to engage with them. Usually most trolls give up, are really obvious, or spawn great opportunities for witty comebacks for your brand to triumph over the moment.
Don't Be Shy
The proof is out there. Those professionals and brands who are on top of their game when it comes to social, and who are responding to all types of engagements win. Big or small, people trust brands who seem approachable, feel alive, and are open to talk. Take the easy win and pull up a chair.