When you hear someone mention the chemical industry what are the first words that come to mind? For the majority of us its words like: hazardous chemicals, explosions, and safety issues. Due to the extreme coverage of accidents, the only thing we hear in the media about the chemical industry is negative. This in return scares customers away from chemical companies and creates distrust between buyers and suppliers. I believe we are at a pivotal point in time where companies need to build up a positive social media reputation on the internet or be lost-in and defined by the negativity that the media portrays around the industry.
This is where social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn play a crucial role. With ~555 million Twitter accounts (StatisticBrain), ~1.1 billion active Facebook users (AP), and 200 million LinkedIn members (LinkedIn) these platforms connect your company directly to customers. By building a strong presence on these networks, companies are able to interact directly with customers to gain their trust and support no matter what the current mood is in the media around the industry.
For example, let’s pretend that we are the CEO of a chemical company that manufactures paints. A recent study has shown a number of acetone brands (an active ingredient in paints) have sold contaminated containers with hazardous chemicals to customers. The media has taken this study and recorded an evening special to inform the public. After airing on the late-night news, you notice paint sales are dropping due to fear that the contaminated containers were used in your operations.
When contamination or accidents occur, having a strong social media presence can help ease customer fears and increase customer satisfaction. With the proper systems in place you can prove that none of the contaminated chemicals were used in your operations. This information can then be pushed out directly to customers via the various social media platforms to ease worries and increase sales. Likewise, social media platforms can be used to inform the public about solutions in all lines of business to increase customer satisfaction. For example the media might be focused on sustainability in the chemical industry and claim that the majority of companies don’t focus on sustainability. You happen to know for a fact that your company spends a great deal of time and money on ensuring sustainability. With a simple status, tweet, or update you can convey this information to your customers. Essentially social media allows you to define the way customers see your company, instead of the media defining your company by the aggregate trends of the industry.
Social media has not only become a platform that brings together people from all over the world, but it has transformed the way companies interact with their customers. Customers have the ability to voice their concerns and opinions, while companies can share information and respond directly to customers. Companies who don’t invest in building a strong presence on social media platforms will soon realize they missed out on a serious competitive advantage.
Do you have a social media plan in place to handle a crisis? Please share your thoughts with us.