Ask any experienced social media specialist, and the expert is bound to recommend as one integral aspect of the strategy, to always proactively and constructively respond to select comments directed towards you or your brand on popular networking channels, forums, review sites, blogs, bulletin boards, and other channels. After all, you are supposed to be an active part of any brand-centric or domain-specific online conversation. Especially smaller businesses must follow this practice.
Key to build your brand’s online visibility
Online discussions play a key role in social networks and the blogosphere. In the Social Gesturing realm, commenting is much more important than sharing. Whether becoming aware, getting influenced, or making the purchasing decisions, they are now considered a vital factor. Yet, finding and participating in these conversations is not as simplistic as one might think. If you err here, it’s going to cost you in terms of irreversible damage to your online reputation. Ideally, your aim should be to bind a niche social community that contributes to your brand’s online visibility.
Quite similar to business blog commenting, the strategy regarding commenting on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Propeller, Reddit, Plurk etc has the same role to fulfill: Brand promotion, traffic and lead generation. The guidelines for posting responses on these networking channels are pretty much similar to those for comments on blogs. The former requires the same kind of user friendly approach and consistency of interaction.
Learn to influence influencers
Take time and efforts to know the influencers by familiarizing with your target audience on social media sites. Keep track of everything happening around, be it the discussions, promos, announcements etc. Thus you’ll have a fair idea of the public sentiment and issues that most people are concerned about or what kind of links/ topics they like. It’s more about understanding what’s people are largely posting and commenting on than simply promoting your brand. Maintain an active flow of conversation, and be responsive as well as proactive in your approach.
Tips to respond to a comment
While responding to a comment or post in social media, first do a basic exercise of finding out whether that particular comment or post really demands a response. Know if you are the right authority to respond. If not, assign the task to experts who would initiate right steps to deal with the situation by acquainting themselves with the culture or mindset of online community.
If it is imperative on your part to respond, keep the following tips in mind:
• Always try to communicate in the first person.
• Focus more on the subject matter, and not the person to avoid ego clashes.
• Be respectful and open minded even while responding to criticism.
• Do not vent out your anger or frustration in public.
• Whenever possible, try and share a link to an official source for clarifying an issue and offering assistance.
• Make sure you are not accidentally divulging any confidential information.
• Proof read your comments before posting them.
Avoid reacting at spur of the moment to negative comments. Harsh responses can start a war of words, which is often undesirable and unnecessary. Other users are judging you on basis of your reactions, and the last thing that you is create a bad buzz, leading to a viral backlash. You are here to build bridges, to network and to make friends. Unless you’ve something constructive to say, don’t react. Avoid duplication of comments. Check the existing remarks before you post your own reply.