Administrators on social media accounts often change due to employees moving on, changes in outsourced service providers, or the appointment of a dedicated inhouse resource.
Sometimes the handover of the social media account administration rights is a smooth process with lots of help, but other times it is surrounded by hostility for a variety of reasons. Whatever the circumstances of the administrator change, it's always a good idea to check a few settings before getting started with posting content and community engagement.
If I missed anything, please let me know in the comments section!
Most people avoid speaking in public like the plague. Sharing your story on a stage however remains one of the best ways to influence stakeholders and build reputation.
To add another dimension to your public relations efforts, keep the following in mind when you are approached - or actively searching for - a speaking opportunity:
Is the occasion relevant to what you or your organisation want to achieve? Speaking engagements take up a significant amount of time, and this time is best invested if it is related to achieving strategic objectives.
You can test the relevancy of a speaking engament based on:
- the audience that will be attending,
- the overall theme of the event,
- the speaker guidelines that might allow or restrict certain types of presentations, and
- how confident you are with the topic you need to address (irrespective of your comfort with public speaking).
The value of a speaking engagement doesn't necessarily lie in the fee that might accompany it, but how you can maximise the activity around it. If the organisers are promoting the event and/or speakers via social media, make sure that you share their content with your own network. Famous by association is still very much a "thing", and your connection to an event of the right calibre and type might be of great reputational value to you.
If you develop custom content (presentation, whitepaper, article) for the speaking engagement, make sure that you share the content on various other relevant platforms after the event. Linkedin allows for sharing content in numerous formats, and is also the best place to share business related content.
Use a speaking engagement to empower, enlighten, or energise the audience. Never use it to sell a product, share a history, or show off your accomplishments.
Executives are often invited as keynote speakers or programme directors, but they might not necessarily be the best person for the job. If you are approached for a session that you feel is about your current level of speech delivery expertise, rather request whether a different type of session is available. As your speaking expertise improves, you'll be able to accept a wider variety of engagements.
Always consider the amount of preparation necessary for each speaking engagement. It is always a good idea to customise your content somewhat according to the event and audience, but accepting speaking engagements are much easier if you can rely on content that you are very confident with, and have existing presentation material ready for.
Never fall into the trap of having someone else prepare your speech or presentation material on your behalf right before a speaking engagement. A nervous presenter is forgiven much more often than a poorly prepared one.
"Tardy feedback, empty promises, and defensive or aggressive reactions are the three biggest reputational management sins on social media."
Social media tools make it easy for professionals and businesses to stay in touch with their influencers, peers, and clients. It is also a great reputation management tool – if used correctly.
A fear of loss of control has discouraged many from fully embracing the benefits possible through effective and strategic social media communication. The fear is not unfounded, as the nature of social media allows anyone to say anything about any topic at any time they want.
Many react to this risk by not participating on social media platforms. This reaction is however the worst possible option; much more responsible being responsive to comments and feedback about services or a brand in a way that will help build a great reputation.
Know what is being said about you
Managing a brand’s online reputation starts with understanding that online activity influences offline actions. The Internet it not just a faraway place that hosts static websites. It has evolved into a space where people talk to each other about products, services, and brands that impressed or angered them.
It is extremely important to monitor a brand’s reputation on a continuous basis, especially with review websites and feedback posted on social media driving a large percentage of purchasing decisions.
Regular – once in the morning, and once in the afternoon – checking of what is being said about a brand online will provide a good benchmark of the sentiment held towards a brand.
Tools that can be used to monitor online mentions of a brand include Google Alerts, and searching for a brand’s name on review sites and industry discussion forums. The easiest way to monitor social media for mentions is to have accounts for yourself and your brand, and visiting them on a twice-daily basis. Comments won’t always tag and link back to your official profiles, so a search for a brand’s name through the social media platform’s search function might also be necessary.
Know what to do when nothing is being said about you
The previous edition of the Professional Accountant journal included an article on how to effectively use social media for brand building and marketing purposes. Alternatively, there are countless free resources available online that provides advice for beginner to advanced social media users. A simple Google search on how to do social media for business is a great place to start gaining insight into the skills and strategies that deliver the best results.
Know what you want to be known for
A brand can not dictate its own reputation, as reputation is based on perceptions held by stakeholders. These perceptions are informed by a combination of experiences with a brand compared to expectations, and feedback and reviews of the brand provided by peers and influencers.
To manage its reputation, a brand can merely ensure that as many as possible of its actions are geared towards delivering products and services that live up to the brand’s promises and to reasonable stakeholder expectations.
To manage its reputation online, a brand needs to make sure that those communicating online on its behalf is very sure of what the brand wants to be known for. This knowledge will inform the type and tone of responses a brand provides in response to negative comments posted on social media.
When reviewing comments, it is necessary to try and understand the context of the comment, and see it from the point of view of the poster. A good rule of thumb is to never just react to negative comments; rather review, reflect, and then respond.
As an example, if a brand wants to be know as an intelligent, customer centered, professional services provider, then a response in line with: “Thank you very much for the feedback. We appreciate your effort to help us to always improve our service levels. We will investigate the incident, and provide feedback as soon as possible.” is much better than “We are sorry you feel that way. When you contacted us we tried to explain to you why we can’t do what you want. If you want more help, call us on our landline.”
Know who you should trust
It is for this reason that the person managing a brand’s social media should not necessarily be the person that is the most tech-savvy, but the person that has the necessary communication skills to implement effective client care.
The person managing a brand’s online reputation should be aware of everything that is happening in the organisation and with customers; both positive and negative. This will enable them to provide speedy client care online in line with what is happening offline.
Furthermore it is crucial that staff members are aware that their online behaviour – posts, comments, and conversation they make online in their personal capacity – can and will have offline disciplinary consequences.
Know how to use negative comments to your advantage
When dealing with negative comments online, the focus should be on how the brand deals with the comments both online and offline. Tardy feedback, empty promises, and defensive or aggressive reactions are the three biggest reputational management sins.
A reputation manager has a responsibility to respectfully consider the value of every comment and opinion, even if the intent seems malicious. An online response that aids in resolving an offline issue is a proven way of turning disgruntled people into loyal brand advocates or fans.
A good generic process to follow when dealing with negative comments is to publicly invite the disgruntled person to have a private conversation around the issue, and then initiate the private conversation either offline or online. Once the issue has been resolved in private, it might be a good idea to provide feedback of the resolution on the public online forum for future reference for others.
If the disgruntled person persists with damaging comments, use the privacy settings of the social media platform block them from posting, or get legal advice if the potential financial damages to the brand starts getting severe.
Once tarnished, restoring reputation takes time, but is possible through consistent effort and transparency.
A continued refusal to adopt social media as a strategic communication platform is not helping – it is merely a silent approval of the brand reputation others are promoting.
This article appears in Issue 28 | 2016 of the Professional Accountant
Social media has been a buzzword for the past nine years, and has grown up through several phases before becoming what it is now – one of the most powerful ways for businesses to promote products and services and build reputation at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing methods.
Managing the reputation of a business used to be an expensive exercise limited to those with access to big budgets and creative content creators. The digital revolution however disrupted the marketing industry by making it possible for anyone with an internet connection to circumvent the privilege and limitations of traditional mass media.
Business owners now have more control than ever in determining the course and success of marketing efforts, but many are still hesitant to embrace the benefits of social media for business. Technology, potential reputation damage, and a fear of making mistakes on social media appear to be the three main inhibitors to getting started.
Supplementing a website with an active presence on social media has been proven to positively influence purchasing decisions. Having social media accounts is however not sufficient. The accounts need to be updated regularly, be of value to the visitor, and provide proof that a client will be in good hands.
In professional services, word of mouth marketing is the most powerful and successful marketing tool. Social media drives digital word of mouth, and can therefore not be dismissed by professional accountants as a short-lived trend only suitable for personal pursuits.
Choose the right platform and content
It is important to remember that social media is not limited to public platforms. Tools like the broadcast function on WhatsApp also form part of social communication, and can play an great part in reminding clients about deadlines, legislative updates etc. Similarly, an office group on WhatsApp can significantly improve productivity, as long as it is used responsibly and within pre-set limits.
A low-risk way of getting started with public social media platforms is to just lurk around and learn from how others are doing it. This will help to provide information on trends, strategies, and types of content that align to intended results.
Types of social stories that could work well for professional accountants include observations made during events or training attended, comments on new legislation, sharing global industry developments, advice on problems are commonly shared by clients. Content doesn’t always have to be created; balancing original content with finding and sharing content (with proper attribution and credit to the creator) that is relevant to a social audience is perfectly acceptable.
Social media has become largely driven by visual content. It is therefore important to not only rely on text, but to also share short videos with advisory snippets, photos of things that lead to a significant realisation, graphs and infographics that support statements, and even lighthearted images that trigger a desired emotion.
After the learning phase, the best way to get over the fear of participating in social media is to pick up a smart phone, start taking photos and videos with the phone, and posting it on social accounts through the apps downloadable to the phone. The apps have been programmed to take new users through each step with relative ease.
The most popular social platform for pure business is Linkedin, but Facebook has been proven to also drive sales and loyalty due to its more personal nature and easier interface. Twitter is still the most popular for sharing thoughts during events. For those more experienced in social media use, Instagram and SnapChat are predicted to rise in popularity and give the more well known platforms a run for their money.
A simple Google search will deliver a myriad of articles, guides, and videos on the Internet on how to get started – or how to become a more advanced user – of social media tools and how to grow the number of relevant social followers.
Grow the social audience
The mere existence of a social media account won’t attract followers – called a social audience – just because it exists. The relevance and number of followers will grow steadily only if a social account is promoted on platforms that already reach the intended audience.
Including a link to or mention of social media accounts in email signatures, on websites, letterheads, and marketing material makes it easier for potential audience members to connect with a social account.
For those that stumble on a social media account after an Internet search, a great first impression relies heavily on the information contained in the profile section. An official logo or photo as profile picture, combined with comprehensive information in the profile fields is imperative. The profile section is also a great place to set expectations by stating what type of content the audience can expect.
A social media audience will only interact with posts if it is of some value to them. Stories that are entertaining, helpful, or educational to the audience will encourage them to regularly visit and interact with the social account, while posts that just sell a service or promote a product will be a strong deterrent.
The golden rule of responsible social media use is to overthink everything before posting. Make sure it aligns with the SAIPA code of conduct, and the morals and values of the business.
When responsible social content does trigger an unintended response, it is best to be prepared to respond with a link to independent third-party content addressing opposing views and stating facts. If this does not defuse a situation, it might be necessary to contact an offender via direct message as a next step to determine whether a resolution is possible.
In the case of verbal abuse or unrelenting negative comments it best to make use of the privacy settings of a social account to block transgressors from further interaction. A public social account is better than a private social account, but not if it is undeservedly detrimental to the reputation of a business.
The best precaution against potential social media risks is proactively training, rather than reactively monitoring, anyone that will be managing social media accounts. Managing social media accounts should not be relegated to the youngest employee based on an assumption that they are more comfortable with using social technology. Business owners should take responsibility for stay on top of social activity by actively participating, even if the responsibility for social activity has been assigned to someone else.
There are only so many hours in every day, and making time for marketing is usually on the bottom of the list for many SME owners. And when they do find time for marketing, or a lack of sales demands attention to marketing, many make the mistake of thinking that all marketing activities are expensive and can only be done by experts.
I have good news! The most difficult part about marketing truly is making time for it every single day. The rest is quite easy once you get started.
Once you've made a commitment to steadily growing your business through ongoing marketing activities, finding time will never be a problem again.
If you need help creating a marketing plan, or figuring out what this marketing thing actually is, let us know.
If they don't know what you have to sell, they won't know that they can buy. Realise the importance and value of marketing - the link between your products/services and you customers.
Read about marketing. The more you know, the easier it will get. Subscribe to marketing newsletters, follow marketing feeds on social media. You don't have to read (or do) everything, but it will be a regular reminder to make time for marketing.
Invest time and thought into an annual plan, and then just work the plan, rather than thinking from scratch everytime you remember to make time for marketing.
It is always quicker to work according to an existing plan, rather than having to figure out what to do every time you remember to do marketing.
Create monthly, weekly, and daily routines that are realistic and easy to stick to. Don't try to do too much at the start; give yourself time to get used to making time for marketing first.
Remember your marketing plan wherever you are. You can find content, stories, photo and video inspiration, recommendations and other wonderful content everywhere - you just need to remember to look, listen, and ask.
Corporate partnerships, event sponsorships, patron members, and research project clients are sometimes the income staple of industry associations. While these affiliations bode well for the budget, the associated reputational risks sometimes outweigh the financial benefit.
Reputation isn’t based on internal intentions, but rather on perceptions formed by outsiders. These perceptions are guided in part by both factual and anecdotal information, and influenced further by each individual’s convictions and experiences.
As people habitually make decisions based on subjective perceptions rather than objective truth, the reputation of one brand is easily transferred to an affiliated party. This transference of reputation might hold great danger for the lesser-known brand – usually the association.
Few realise the immense reputational influence of affiliations on industry associations. In our experience assisting associations with their PR and reputation management, we’ve identified two major reputation dangers that associations must actively manage:
DANGER 1: The association is siding with wrongdoers
During a recent national crisis an association was accused by mass media of protecting a public sector agency. This accusation was based merely on the membership status of the agency (as listed on the website of the association). Even though there was no truth to substantiate the accusation, the reputation of the association was still called into question.
There are also numerous reports on social media and review sites such as HelloPeter.com that link associations with members accused of less desirable conduct. Most readers of those sites will immediately form a perception of the association as a whole. This perception will not be based on the actions of the association, but simply on the mention of the connection between the accused member and the association.
There is no need for associations to hide the affiliation with members or sponsors that do not have a sterling reputation. It is however of crucial importance that the terms of the relationship be available immediately and in language that clarifies the position of the association. Merely stating the benefits a member or sponsor is entitled to isn’t enough. It needs to be clear that awarding membership or affiliation status does not imply or award any form of endorsement of products, services, or conduct. In addition, contact details for information requests placed on the same page as the membership listing, can be very helpful in providing information to guide perceptions.
DANGER 2: The association is influenced by a specific corporate brand
The active and ongoing participation of a small number of corporate brands might seem like a dream come true for associations that depend on sponsorships as an integral revenue stream. The danger arises when one brand finds it easier to participate more often, and on a larger scale than others.
Seeing a specific corporate logo displayed every year across a variety of material or events produced by an association can create a perception that the association is co-branded, and therefore co-managed.
These assumptions are usually raised when least expected, and – contrary to popular belief – responding with the facts might not make much difference to the assumption. It is more effective to proactively steer clear from fueling assumptions by allowing feedback and insight from various viewpoints to highlight potential areas of risk and guide decisions.
The best longterm strategy to manage this particular danger is to ensure that the team promoting sponsorship has a substantial database to promote to, rather than relying on the recurring involvement of only a few. While repetitive support is the easiest to secure, the reputational risk might end up costing more.
Many successful people have famously hailed reputation as their greatest asset. It is however one of the hardest things for associations to manage as it takes a single minded focus on weighing up financial gains with potential reputational damage. It is for this reason that the reputation management of an association can not be left solely to the marketing department, but needs to be driven by strategic leadership.
Getting started with promoting your business on social media is similar to starting on the journey to a healthy lifestyle.
You might be tempted to follow any number of quick-start plans and silver bullets that promise great results with little to no work. The only way to meaningful change is however through continued focused work and accepting that results might be slower than you hoped.
The good news for those willing to let go of comfortable habits is that once you get started, you’ll find that it’s really not that hard to stick to your resolutions.
Start with what you have
One of the most common mistakes when getting started is to focus too much on research and treatments and quick fixes, and not enough time doing the work needed. Waiting for a special date to start – like New Year or a product launch – and placing your trust in special tools only delays the inevitable. Starting with what you have and know, and learning as you progress is a much better idea.
Create a plan based on what you experience
It is not enough to just “do something” if you want to achieve long term results. While doing something is better than doing nothing, a comprehensive longer term plan will keep your efforts on track.
Start with a simple plan that specifies what you want to achieve, the tools and help you have available, and how often you can spend time on it. Keep in mind that regular, smaller activities have been shown to be more successful and easier to keep up.
Put in what you want to get out
To form new habits you need to take the change seriously. In the beginning you will need to think about it all the time so that nothing to distracts you from your goals. As new habits replace old ones it will become easier to add more challenging goals to your plan. Progress is completely up to you; what you put in will reflect in what you get out.
Choose your support system carefully
It will be a lot easier to achieve your goals if the people that surround you are positive and encouraging. Build a support system that allows you to ask questions and get experienced answers or sensible dialogue. If you decide to get someone dedicated to help you, make sure that the person really wants to help, and is not just doing it because it’s their job.
It’s easy to do something new when your enthusiasm is still high but old habits usually threaten to take over. When this happens, don’t give up. The process of change might be slow in the beginning, but it gets easier and quicker as you continue.
Together with your overall goal, set smaller short term goals, and celebrate those goals once you’ve achieved them. These small celebrations will for a long way in motivating you and those around to keep up the good work.
Don’t let go of your vision just because of a few (or a lot) of apparent failures. Remember that any progress towards your goals is building a solid foundation for a successful future.
If you’ve read anything about content marketing over the past two years, you would’ve noticed that the role and conversion success of video have increased exponentially.
A few of the most important statistics:
Producing a video for your business used to be an expensive affair involving numerous experts. These days, with digital developments and changed customer expectations, having a few relatively inexpensive tools can quickly set you on your way to joining the video revolution.
In exploring how to create videos that meet the expectations of our clients, and myself, I’ve learned that while the equipment isn’t as expensive anymore, there are still a few tips and tricks to keep in mind. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
When recording a face-to-camera message, make sure the interviewee has received and rehearsed the script well before the interview. Don’t rely on a teleprompter, cue cards or a rushed rehearsal on the day. A teleprompter or cue cards can help them remember the message, but viewers always notice when the message seems unfamiliar to the person delivering it on camera. Reading from a document with only a few glances at the recording equipment is of course a huge no-no.
Before you get started, explain the recording process to the interviewee. Warn them against habitual movements or expressions that could be distracting to viewers. Wringing hands, bouncing legs, saying “um” before every answer, or even sniffing, are a few examples. If the interviewee does fall into these habitual traps during the recording, allow them to finish their answer, then remind them of the habit, and redo the question and answer. It might be uncomfortable to point it out, but leaving it in the recording will result in viewers getting distracted, rather than focusing on the core message.
The interviewer has to brief spokesperson on how long final clip will be. This will help the interviewer to decide which pieces of information to relay, and which to leave out for the purpose of including the strongest message in the final clip.
Recording time will generally be much longer than clip, as the interviewee needs a chance to place information in context, and the interviewer needs to obtain enough information to be able to create a concise but fully representative story. Allow up to 60 minutes recording time for a final clip of 5 minutes.
If the interviewee is traveling to the recording space, he/she must add 30-40 minutes to their regular traveling time to allow for contigencies, finding the recording space, freshening up, getting their heart rate and breath back to normal, and having audio set up and tested.
The interviewer must guide the interviewee to give short, concise sound bytes summarising his/her point(s), rather than long statements including superfluous information. Interviewees tend to focus on formulating the best answer from the vast amount of knowledge they have. Interviewers should ensure that the most pertinent information can be included in short clips that can be used in a variety of video formats specified by the various social media platforms.
Have a glass of water available for the interviewee. Being on camera is stressful for most people, and they might experience an unusually dry mouth as a result.
Do not rely on overhead fixtures to provide lighting for the recording. Not only will it cast unflattering shadows on the interviewee’s face, but overhead lights rarely provide the amount of light needed for high quality video. If you don't have standalone video lights, find a large window (without blinds, curtains or burglar bars in front of it) and place the interviewee diagonally in front of it. Natural daylight filtered through a window is some of the best lighting for video.
In the setup used for TV interviews the camera and interviewee is positioned facing each other, with the interviewer seated to the side of camera. The interviewee doesn't look at the camera, but rather at the interviewer. For more direct messages, facing the camera is absolutely fine, but avoid the “boring talking head” syndrome.
Don’t stop and restart the camera after errors. Shoot continuously and edit the recording afterwards. If the interviewing pair needs to redo a bit, just let them pause for a view seconds before starting again; this will give the video editor enough room to edit out the flubs.
Record 5 second pauses between questions and answers, rather than having the interviewee answer the moment the question has been asked. During these pauses the interviewee needs to remain absolutely quiet and as still as possible. This will help the video editing process go a lot quicker and smoother.
Remind the interviewee to stay calm and speak slowly.
Avoid recording distracting background noises by warning everyone in the vicinity of the recording space that you are busy with a recording. Even through a closed door regular day-to-day activities like conversations in a hallway or cupboard doors closing can get picked up by microphones. Typing on a keyboard during an interview can also be picked up by microphones and create sound disturbances in the recording. If you need to take notes, try to do so the old fashioned way … with pen and paper.
Switch cellphones to airplane mode to ensure there are no electronic sound disturbances from either ringtones or signals on any wireless audio equipment.
Don't allow unnecessary people in the recording space as they might be a visual distraction to the person speaking.
If you’re interested in starting to create videos for your business, this blog post by The Visual Cube has an overview of the types of businesses that benefit the most from video marketing, and things to keep in mind when you get started.
If you need help with creating a short, sharp message to get your key points across, chat to us to see how we can help.
We'd like to help journalists, producers and editors find the information they need to provide news stories that can make a difference.
As publications face rapidly declining advertising revenue and threats of free social networks satisfying the need for immediate access to information, news consumers feel the effects of declining newsroom staff under more pressure to produce more content faster for platforms they are unfamiliar with.
The need for trusted sources that can provide reliable and objective information is greater than ever as South African citizens itch to play an active part in the restoration of systems and services that have failed to deliver on promises.
Industry associations have links to experts well-versed on a variety of topics, and can assist with speeding up the search for relevant, informative, and helpful comment on breaking news stories.
That's where we come in.
Our clients are all industry associations or professional bodies; we therefore understand how their structures work and how to gain quick access to the right source of information.
When we receive a request for information we try our best to find a relevant source through one of the industry associations and, with their approval, send their contact details to the requesting journalist/producer.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.
Generating publicity is quite easy.
If the stories you have to share are worthy of space in publications and programmes that have easy access to more content than ever; are up-to-the-second new; are easy to understand for those that have no knowledge of technical background of the story; can make a difference in average people's lives; easily forms part of the news cycle; and is supported by trusted relationships with journalists and editors, then generating publicity is easy.
So let me restate the first line ... generating publicity is quite easy ... if you have the time to spend on it.
Generating publicity, or making sure you take care of the earned media part of your integrated marketing plan, is however still one of the best ways to spread the word about your organisation, its products, services and activities. A steady stream of great editorial content published on platforms read and listened to by your potential customers helps immensely in shortening your sales cycle.
Here are a few tips to help you get started without breaking the bank:
Don't set your expectations sky-high; rather aim for one great piece published in a publication, or one fantastic conversation on a broadcast programme that you know reaches your target audience.
Do your homework
One of the easiest ways to do this is to read the publication or listen to the programme yourself. This sounds quite obvious, but it is the number one oversight.
Listen and learn
Identify the type of stories that are published on the chosen platforms, and figure out which of your stories are the best fit. Another way to go about it is to contact the journalist or presenter and ask them what type of stories they prefer to publish.
Create valuable content
Newsrooms are incredibly busy, and prefer to receive content that conforms to their requirements. This means content submitted for editorial consideration should be written with facts as the focal point, and should not contain your marketing or sales messages.
Remember, journalists are tasked with informing the general public on issues that have an impact on their lives; your content should reflect and understanding of this.
Also keep in mind that photos submitted must be high resolution, and that you should obtain approval from every person quoted in the content before you send it to the media.
Journalists are people, and they like dealing with people, not representatives. They are however very pressured for time, so will not necessarily want to attend a lengthy introduction meeting or event. Communicate with journalists with the aim of helping them, not selling to them.
Know the difference between important and newsworthy
Many people find it difficult to distinguish the difference between news that is important to those already familiar with the organisation, and news that is worthy of editorial publicity. Make sure that the content you send to a journalist is current, relevant, and can make a difference to the lives of readers/listeners.
Don't worry, you can still use your important news to build your reputation by publishing it via your paid, shared or owned platforms.
Keep your ear on the ground
Make sure that you find out whether your content was used. Journalists are usually too pressured to help you with this, so try to use tools like Google Alerts, paid-for media monitoring tools, or even just by reading and listening to the publications you submitted your content to.
If you need more guidance, or simply don't have the time to follow all of these steps on a regular basis, give us a shout to see if we can help.