What you say and how you act has a massive effect on what people think of your organisation. Even before they enter into a conversation with you, they will have a clear picture of what to expect.
The social web has allowed us great opportunity to improve our businesses in a very transparent way. Communication across lots of platforms makes it easier for customers to get in contact with us at the click of a button. That’s great because once we have established where our customers hang out online, it provides a great platform to build relationships and develop conversations.
While you’re chatting away and informing your community of what’s going on, you’re developing a “social reputation”. It’s built on the relationships you develop online and how you are perceived to be based on your actions.
People – like it or not – already have a clear idea of you and your business from what they see online. If they don’t see anything, then you guessed it: it’s not very good. If they see a proactive business prompting conversation, acknowledging responses and developing relationships, then it paints a fantastic picture of the type of organisation they are, and that’s someone they want to do business with.
Your reputation precedes you, it helps people connect with you and trust you, so acknowledge it and take control of what you project online.
But how can you start working on yours?
I like to think of social networks as great connectors between organisations and individuals. They act as the common ground, allowing conversations to flow very easily as both parties understand what to expect from the platform they choose to use. It makes developing relationships very simple and allows you to see further than the business transactions.
The conversations and messages you send through social networks are open for everyone to see, and this is very powerful. Everyone can see how you deal with people and the type of organisation you are. Comments people have made to you are displayed and up to date, responses are shown and information is passed transparently for everyone to see, word of mouth is accelerated. So everything you do creates a reflection of the type of organisation you are.
My advice is simple: you know your business and the people in it better than anyone, so use what you know to make it as simple as possible for people to talk to you online, drive conversations, keep relationships fresh and keep everyone up to date on your business. This has a greater impact to your organisation than driving immediate sales, it builds a trust in your brand, an openness that connects people deeper and helps more people understand why your company is the one to work with.
Going that extra mile and developing your organisation will put you in front of other businesses in the market. Leading in this way allows you to decide the standards people expect and keep pushing the value you add.
James Curran is the founder of a channel by Yuftee.com, “Simple data to help develop conversations and relationships through social networks.”