Singapore is a great modern city in the Asia Pacific region. I live here and proud to be a Singaporean. Singapore is one of the fastest growing economies in the world today. However, in my opinion, many Singapore companies here are still lacking in what I defined as “online social engagement” with their prospects and customers.
Online social engagement is consider as a new way of public communications. It is simply engaging your existing customers as well as potential prospects on the internet one on one. Today, we see that it is highly significant to do social engagement; this is because with the advent of Web 2.0 and beyond, everyone can be a spokesperson for a particular product, company, celebrity or even part of the government sector. He or she may or may not work in that company. The internet has somehow “personalized” the company or product.
"Everyone: Your customers, your employees or even your competitors' 'Spies' can become your company spokesperson."
When I said that anyone can be a spokesperson of your company, it can mean your competitor, your hater, your customer or simply anyone on the streets. That means your company or organization are opened to criticisms as well as praises. Hence, there is a very critical need to have an individual department body in the company to focus on online social engagement.
Yet, we seldom see companies or MNCs in Singapore doing their own online social engagement except for those in the hotels industry. Through visiting popular online travel reviews sites such as Tripadvisor, you can learn about the ways, how some of the hotel general managers in Singapore respond to some of their positive and negative feedback from their hotel guests.
Other than our hospitality sector, most other industries and even the government sector in Singapore are still lacking in participating and engaging the public through online social media and websites.
Much companies and organizations still prefer the “I Speak, You Listen” method when they do their PR. If complaints arise online, they either ignore it or simply sent a lawyer letter to sue the poster. Online social engagement is still seen as a long way to go for most companies but as a performing marketer for your company, you should start and initiate this immediately so as to prepare your company anytime should the time come.
You will never know when you need to do online social engagement, by the time you knew it, it will be too late. So you should start today.
Here is how to start doing your online social engagement:
1. Subscribe Google Alert for your company keyword. The reason why is because whenever somebody mentioned about your company and is indexed on Google, you will know immediately. If the mention is neutral or good, it is ok for you. However, if the mention is a complaint, you will need to resolve it immediately. This is because once the page is indexed on Google, forever it will be. If it is a popular complaint page, it will soon be listed on the first page of Google and cost you tons and tons of potential prospects for your business!
"Say sorry for the mistakes you make about your products and services. People will then respect you."
2. Be Honest. Every company, big or small, makes mistakes. Because companies have people working for them and people are not 100% perfect. When the comments on the internet is true, says sorry and tell the complainer that if he or she wants to sue your company they can do so, but you will not run away from the mistake you made, you will solve the issue with them together. Admit the mistake you made, and take action to rectify it.
3. What about malicious remarks made by your competitors pretending to be your clients? This can happen if your company is large and leading your industry. The first thing you should do is to apologize and investigate immediately. Be a gentleman even if you know that the person who posted the comment is dishonest. The next step you should do is to reply online to ask the “complainer” to message you his or her invoice number, when is the date they came to your office or buy your product. If they are not able to produce the evidence for their complaint, you will need to publicize again that you will only resolve their problems if they produced genuine receipts or proof of their buying their products at your premises. This is to show prospects that this is clearly an online slander craftily build to tarnish your company reputation.
4. Improve on yourself. Since you have made the mistakes, apologized for it, it's now time to move on. Improve to be better in your products and services thereafter. Don’t run away when people said things about your organization; face them with your sincerity.
In summary, social engagement is a must for every organization to practice in their daily work operation. Online social engagement is not a complicated thing to do. All you need to do is to be sincere, honest and responsible towards whatever that is said about you on the internet.
Jacky Tan, Senior Marketing PR Manager (Asia Pacific), Evorich Flooring Group
Senior Marketing PR Manager for Evorich Flooring Group | Freelance Writer and Blogger @business2community.com, @marketers.blognotions.com
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Jacky Tan is a professional marketing writer, blogger, speaker, and the author of 'Social M - How Your Startup Can Take On the Big Boys'. Jacky leads the boutique marketing communications and branding agency, Jack and Chaz Pte Ltd. He specialises in the creation of successful branding, content marketing and pr strategies for companies of any size.