Congratulations, your brand is the topic in a social network. One question though:

Are you in control of the conversation?

Take a second, because the answer is important. If you are, then that’s fantastic- you’re going to do well. If not, well then, you might have a situation on your hands.

In the age of ‘new’ and social media, it is true that talking at your audience is not as effective as it used to be. Like the old adage in public relations, two-way communications is going to be the most effective. Let’s put the emphasis on “two-way”, because that means that just because your audience has a voice now, it doesn’t mean that they are always right. The only place the “customer is always right” is in customer service. This is branding. They can be wrong here.

It is crucial for brand advocates to have a strong voice when communicating with their audiences on social networks. If  audience members are trying to pioneer a change in the brand’s product/service line or philosophy, brand advocates must step in-quickly- and explain why the brand takes the stand it is. But that doesn’t mean the door is totally closed.

Making a firm stand is good, and that’s the right start. Then, to further gain control of the conversation, you can invite their opinions on other things. Create a space and an environment where their ideas and opinions are gathered and responded to in a timely fashion. Let them share stories, and maybe even pick a few to highlight on business collateral. On Buckle’s website, they have a whole page dedicated to stories they receive from customers who had excellent customer service.

It helps the brand more when you can control the conversation. Joining in, though obviously more beneficial than staying out, creates a reactive message, and those are never better than the initiative.