Social Media PlanningYou need a social media plan. It is no longer an option. It is now a requirement.

There is a company called National Bankcard Monitor. They call me every day, even though I have pressed “1” to be removed from their call list. [That’s a whole other blog post.] The company does not leave me a message from a real person or a call back number, they just keep calling and calling and calling.

So, I was bored on my way downtown today and I Googled the number. (No, I wasn’t driving!) I found lots of negative comments calling the company a scam before I found the website. Now, I have no idea if this is a legitimate company or not, but based on my experience and what I found online, they could offer me a Mercedes and I still wouldn’t do business with them.

Although I cannot fairly debate the merits of this company, I can tell you that my professional opinion is that regardless of their level of integrity, they are being killed by their lack of social media savvy. They may not care, but most companies do.

Here’s the thing: Companies (ethical or otherwise) cannot control what is posted about them online, but if they are doing it right – building widgets or brewing beer – they will have a community of supports in place when negative comments appear. Successful companies will also have trained team members on board who will have developed a relationship with the community and are trusted to respond to negative comments.

Now, this company has a couple of “testimonials” posted by Frank and Tom on their website. That has zero value to most customers. We have no idea who Frank and Tom are. Most people see that and think: Who are Frank and Tom? They are not part of my community. Why would I care?

Testimonials living completely out of context hold little value against real people posting about your company online. This is another area where PR – social media specifically – trumps marketing.

If this company cared about its image, it would take the approach that everything should be communicated via social media, including kudos from Tom and Frank. Any messages that go out can be shared. The company that gets engagement over announcement is the one that wins.

Social media is great at rounding up key community members – Influencers if you must – and directing them to preferred online destinations and lots of great awareness, sharing and communicating is happening via social media. Companies or individuals who have even the most basic interest in cultivating their brand, image, or community will hop on board quickly – if only just to monitor what is being said about them.

In this case, a lack of response online leads me to believe this company is either unethical or inept. This may or may not be true, but it’s my opinion. How many customers will they lose because they did not manage their online reputation?