Valentine’s Day is around the corner. It’s a day for love, thank goodness! Spend too much time online reading news headlines and social media comments and you might get the impression that anger and hostility have won the upper hand.

What Are Nice Brands to Do?

We all know people who’ve thrown up their hands and deleted their social media accounts (something more people are doing thanks to recent revelations about fake followers which we wrote about here). Some businesses and organizations have stopped using social media altogether.

Unpleasant as bad online behavior is, it’s important to maintain perspective and remember the multitudes of people who are focused on good—including many of your customers and clients.

Play it nice online and people will notice.

Nice Brands Get Noticed: Case Example

As the social media administrator for a multinational manufacturer, I’ve read online comments that have left me shaking my head in confusion. Something about the distance (and semi-anonymity) of social media causes certain people to temporarily lose their minds—and their manners—over the smallest of things.

Just a few simple rules have made it easier to maintain a brand voice that is consistently upbeat and pleasant. They include:

  • Keep all online conversations positive and friendly
  • Congratulate others—including competitors—on well-deserved achievements
  • Like, comment and share posts from people and brands with a similar positive outlook
  • Never speak negatively of anyone, including competitors and copycats
  • Acknowledge issues and complaints in a friendly tone and from a place of empathy and learning (e.g., What went wrong? How can we best help you?)
  • Invite people to continue customer service conversations offline by providing them with an email and a phone number
  • Never engage in single-side dialogues or online shouting matches
  • Delete all hurtful or hateful comments—and let people know that such behavior is not tolerated

Nice Brands Finish Ahead

Applied consistently, these actions can help build an online reputation that stands up to the increasing incivility that we see around us. According to the 2017 Civility in America survey conducted by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate with KRC Research, 69% of Americans blame the Internet and social media behind the rise in incivility, and 53% have stopped buying from a company because of uncivil representatives.

Whether we’re managing our own personal brands, or the brands of multinational corporations, we all have a duty to improve the state of civility in our nation—and it begins online. Over 50% of people surveyed believe the responsibility begins with social media sites and search engines.

And if we’re lucky, we’ll receive a message like the one directed to the manufacturer that I mentioned above:

Besides their quality tools, and that they stand 100% behind their products, this company stands out to me because they are involved with the industry and the online community. They have answered all my emails; liked, shared and commented on my Facebook posts; liked, shared and commented on other people’s Facebook posts; and shared and commented on YouTube videos produced by other people and businesses. Plus, they are always posting great professional tips as well as fun, behind-the-scenes stuff about the company and its hard-working employees. It’s the things like this that matter!

Now that’s NICE, isn’t it?!