Businesses urged to be authentic, transparent on social media

By: WAYNE HEILMAN
June 13, 2012
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Small businesses should work to be authentic, transparent and human when posting on social media, according to the founders of a Denver-based public relations agency that specializes in crisis communications and defending businesses against attacks on social media.

Businesses both small and large should monitor social media for posts about them, be prepared to respond and have a social-media policy for all employees to follow, according to Laura Love, founder and president of GroundFloor Media, and Ramonna Robinson, vice president and managing partner. The two were featured speakers Wednesday at a Small Business Day luncheon and a workshop on crisis communication at the DoubleTree Hotel.

“Don’t try to be everything to everybody on social media; gravitate to where your audience is, but make sure that you claim property on all social media so you can use the name you want,” Love said during her presentation, titled “You have 9 Seconds: Crisis Communication in the Age of Social Media.” That title refers to the amount of time required to post the average video to YouTube, and reinforces how quickly businesses must react to dissatisfied customers or others who might post negative information about businesses on social media.

The most common social media mistakes include businesses failing to be transparent and trying to hide negative information about them, not sharing information with employees and other stakeholders before it is posted on social media, not responding to negative posts about them and qualifying any public apology for bad service or products, Love said.

All businesses need to be posting information regularly, at least once or twice a week, on social media because their competitors likely already are there and reaching their audience, she said.

“Social media is fast; it is just like a brush fire. If you don’t have the resources ready to fight the fire, it can kill your business overnight,” said Rich Jennings, regional vice president of Comcast’s operations in Colorado and New Mexico. Comcast faced its own social media crisis when a customer posted a video of a company technician who fell asleep on the customer’s couch in 2006.

Jennings joined Love and Robinson on a panel at the workshop during the Small Business Day event  sponsored by the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado and the Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center.

Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman
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