Be smart in your approach to social media

There is no doubt that the potential of social media as a marketing and communications tool for businesses, including real estate franchises, is significant – making it hard to ignore.  Yet the very nature of the platform leaves businesses across all industries open to a variety of issues that can arise, as many organisations are now finding.  

You can never fully control what your customers say about your business on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter – and nor should you want to.  One of the biggest benefits of using social media is to allow your customers to express their opinions and discuss your services amongst themselves, spreading the word about your business across vast networks.  

With this in mind, if you as the owner and/or manager of a real estate franchise decide that social media is an appropriate tool for your business to utilise, there are a number of strategies you can put in place to help make sure you use it to your advantage, going a long way to avoid or circumvent a negative PR storm about your business.  

1. Create a social media policy/community management plan

Every business using social media should map out crucial ‘Terms of Service’ including:

What is not tolerated in conversations about your business? E.g. foul and abusive language, threats against individuals.  

The appointment of a community manager within your office who will monitor your office’s entire social media presence, including external areas where your business is being discussed online, such as individual blogs and forums.

A process by which the community manager works with the executive and PR teams to decide who will respond to which types of comments.  

 

2. Have an escalation plan

It is important to decide ahead of time what steps your office will take if an online situation develops.   Having a plan in place will allow you to act quickly and decidedly to work through and best manage any negative consumer sentiment.

3. Plan for the worst – expect the best

By understanding the worst case scenario that your business could suffer in a social media meltdown you may be able to craft responses ahead of time.  This will help to ensure that you won’t be caught off guard and will be well prepared if negative sentiment around your business begins to arise. 

4. Respond quickly, personally and directly

Acknowledge questions and negative comments on your social media platforms, and assure consumers you’re working toward an answer.  Then, execute your official response, if appropriate, as detailed in your escalation plan.  Remember – individual responses can go a long way.  

5. Don’t play the blame game

Many consumers will expect businesses to pass the buck and not own up to problems.  Acknowledge that you are working to rectify their problems and inform consumers about when and how you will improve the situation.  

Social media is a powerful tool that can be used to your office’s significant advantage.  By anticipating any issues that may arise, and having plans and strategies in place to manage these, you can look to ensure that any problematic situations are handled in a professional and positive way.   

More detailed information and guidance about the above steps can be found in CENTURY 21’s extensive 2012 Social Media Manual, available to all CENTURY 21 franchises.  

Posted by George Tarbey on 12/03/2012 at 3:33 PM | Categories:

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