It seems that you can’t go a week without reading about a public scandal related to a company’s online advertising, social media presence or customer service. These are not just small businesses; big names that include McDonalds, Starbucks, JP Morgan, Comcast and others are all on the list of those who have made massive flubs online. It is possible that the errors come down to not understanding the realities of the digital age, including:

1. Digital media is a conversation.

If your company is continually blaring out one-sided promotional messages, you will not get much traction. In your blogs, address what customers want. On social media, start conversations. Ask questions. Answer questions. Online, everybody has the ability to contribute, and customers will expect you to understand that.

2. Companies don’t get to choose how people respond.

Sterling customer service and quality products are more important than ever. If your customer service is poor, expect that fact to be shared on blogs, Yelp, Facebook and even, if you are very unlucky, documented with video that is uploaded and reposted all over Youtube. You are always in public now.

3. But, consumers do expect you to talk back to them.

70% of consumers expect brands to respond to complaints on Twitter within an hour. While this can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. If your product is good and your customer service is on-key, you can turn each of these individual interactions into power PR for your brand.

Lara Stewart
Lara is a freelance writer and marketer who focuses on digital marketing, personal finance, health and wellness and entertainment. Hire her to write blog posts, articles, ebooks and white papers through her website, The Small Business Blogger.

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