7 mistakes to avoid for a spotless reputation

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So you have a Twitter account that you use daily to share news about your company, or a Facebook page where you sporadically post interesting facts about your company. If you think that will take you to the top, you got another thing coming. Sad, but true, there are a lot of good companies out there that fail to take charge and promote their brand, and instead of taking their companies to the next level, entrepreneurs wind up on the wrong path. To avoid ending up like the vast majority, try and bypass these seven common mistakes that entrepreneurs do on a regular basis.

One of the most important mistakes you could make is not understanding your audience. First, you should ask yourself who is the prime audience of your company. Despite the fact that you might come up on the spot with the perfect customer model, these clients prove to be only a small portion of your actual audience. Take into account that business partners, bloggers, journalists will always have a say when it comes to your reputation. You need to build a relationship based on trust and consistency, so take the time to do your research.

Another important aspect you have to take into account as an entrepreneur is finding out where your regular customers prefer to spend their time online, what their favorite social networks or blogs are. Keep in mind that making this a part of your business plan will bring you benefits in the long run.

After finding out where your target audience spends most of their time online, make them aware that you welcome their business with open-arms. Whether we’re talking about Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, you should have an active page in which you should invest time.

Your baseline doesn’t need to be astronomical. There are tons and tons of small web pages that manage to create a Facebook page or a Twitter account where they share breathtaking photos or interactive videos and create communities that will spread the word around. Thus, their business will see an increase on a medium-term.

Congruence is essential to the development of your company. Since your audience cannot possibly be located all in one place, provide them with congruent experiences. This way, they will not perceive you as sending mixed messages about your reputation.

You can take a page out of KFC or Coca Cola’s playbook if you have some problems grasping this concept and failing to implement it. Go check out either their Facebook page, or Twitter profile, or even their YouTube channel and you’ll see the point I’m trying to get across. All of them look the same, they are in the same tone and even the discussions that take place in either environment are very similar.

Make sure you are present 24/7 for your clients or community. Let’s face it, for a small company it’s nearly impossible to keep track of every conversation about your reputation. However, you can still make great use of social media monitoring tools like Google Alerts or Trackur and join in conversations which are of the utmost interest and importance.

Everybody makes mistakes, So when (NOT if) you make one, apologize quickly. Imagine you cut your finger by accident and you applied a band-aid. After the wound is healed, remove the band-aid quickly so that the pain goes away faster. The same goes for mistakes in the business environment. Maybe you’ve heard about this one instance where a minibar employee from Austin, Texas came up with a way of promoting his beer. He wrote on a blackboard the following message “I like my beer like I like my violence: domestic”. This could have been the end of the road for the owner, but, luckily for him he was able to remove the sign quickly, fired the employee and assured his customers that such an incident will never happen again. To make up for the mistake of his ex-employee, he promised to donate $1 per every domestic beer sold during one month to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The owner has shown remarkable crisis management skills and the tension was shortly diffused.

Transparency goes hand in hand with quickly apologizing. By not offering your customers transparency, they will become hesitant and will take their business elsewhere. There are some good examples out there when transparency has proved to be the best solution, like in the case of Target, after their data breach.

Don’t outsource your reputation. You’ll probably never hear someone from a PR firm talking on behalf of Bill Gates. People inside your company know more about how to connect with your audience than a person that first has to familiarize himself/herself with the environment. Connecting with your audience will always lead to a better communication and improved services. Outsourcing to a PR firm only ensures you two things: you lose your connection with your customers and you put your company at risk by pulling an awful stunt.

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