Social media is a powerful tool for managing online reputation. Twitter is currently one of the leading social networks worldwide. According to Statista – the statistics portal, Twitter had 271 million monthly active users, in the second quarter of 2014.

An article in the Financial Times revealed some interesting findings by ‘Socialbro’ – an organisation that ‘helps companies market themselves on Twitter’. The survey, which was conducted across a number of high profile companies, found that though nearly all had a corporate Twitter account, less than a third of their chief executives had actually ‘tweeted’ – and only a small number these executives were actively using Twitter themselves.

Twitter is an ideal platform from which to communicate with customers and connect with employees. It is also very useful if ever faced with a communication crisis.

Dealing with a crisis

When US Airways mistakenly posted an inappropriate image on its official Twitter handle it attracted attention from ‘tweeters’ around the world. As soon as the company was alerted to the inappropriate tweet, they made a public apology on their Twitter profile stating: “We apologise for an inappropriate image recently shared as a link in one of our responses. We’ve removed the tweet and are investigating.”

US Airways used Twitter to confront the problem, and prevent further damage to their reputation. They successfully communicated with their audience and the media in real-time.

And, in another airline related crisis, when AirAsia flight disappeared from its flight path between Surabaya to Singapore, Tony Fernandes, the company’s chief executive, sent out tweets to express his sorrow for their crew and passengers. The media recognised his sympathy and praised his reaction.

“I, as your group CEO, will be there through these hard times. We will go through this terrible ordeal together,” Mr Fernandes tweeted. “Keeping positive and staying strong. My heart bleeds for all the relatives of my crew and our passengers. Nothing is more imp­or­tant to us.”

Concerns about using Twitter

Company executives are often afraid of using Twitter, believing that even one mistake could cause damage to company reputation. Executives often worry that they could say something that will be misinterpreted.

“If I am honest, I was terrified at first. I set up the account but I didn’t do anything with it at first. I just sat there,” says Jacqueline Gold, chief executive of Ann Summers, who now has an active presence on Twitter. “Then I saw that, even though I wasn’t saying anything people were still starting to follow me, and I realised that they wanted to hear what I had to say.”

There are many constructive ways to communicate with your audience via social media – apart from simply ‘tweeting’. Try sharing interesting articles, and posting industry focused blogs. Offering your audience useful and relevant information will help you attract a loyal following, while establishing you as an expert in your field.

Twitter benefits recruitment

Candidates looking for a job will often search companies’ social media profiles. Used well, your Twitter account could help you to attract new recruits – and support your company to build a strong reputation online. Nafisa Nathani, a communications consultant and self-described “millennial”, puts it succinctly in an interview conducted over Twitter: “No #millennial wants to work for a faceless corporation. CEOs are face to company. Social media helps to connect.”

Reach out directly to the complainer

When a customer posts a negative review online, if possible, reply to them via the same channel. Your network will see that you are responsive and care about your customer. When contacting the complainer, it is often helpful to invite them to contact you directly by email or phone number for a further discussion offline.

As well as improving customer services with social media, Twitter is  a great way to communicate with your audience, promote your products and services online, and manage your company reputation.

For information about online reputation management please contact Simon Wadsworth on email: or phone: +44 (0) 203 542 8686.

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