Two smiling women in denim aprons stand in a plant shop and look at something on a smartphone. The woman on the left is holding the smartphone; she has dark hair pulled into a bun on top of her head. The woman on the right is slightly shorter and has long, wavy blonde hair. The women are surrounded by green, leafy potted plants, some of which sit on top of wooden boxes.
Your brand's social media content should aim to inspire, educate, or otherwise provoke positive associations in the minds of your customers. — Getty Images/RealPeopleGroup

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, there’s a good chance you understand the importance of social media for your brand. It can help you engage with your audience and land new customers while retaining current ones.

The one aspect of social media that you might not have thought about is disengagement. Why would your customers distance themselves from your brand and what can you do to reduce their risk of doing so? According to researchers at University of Arkansas and Northeastern University, many consumers choose to disengage from a brand if they see socially unacceptable mentions of it.

When you put yourself in a customer’s shoes, it makes sense. If you’re loyal to a brand and frequently spend your hard-earned money on their products or services, a socially unacceptable mention will likely rub you the wrong way. It can invoke feelings of shame and motivate you to unfollow the brand. You may disassociate yourself with them anymore and turn to a competitor. Of course, this might not be the case if your brand connection isn’t as close and you can simply move on.

No matter your industry or how long you’ve been around, you should anticipate negative brand mentions.

Fortunately, entrepreneurs and small business owners like yourself can take certain actions to keep your highly connected customers happy and engaged on social media:

  • Be proactive: Keep a close eye on brand mentions so that you know when a socially unacceptable mention pops up and can respond to it appropriately. Third-party tools like Google Alerts, Social Mention, Awario, and Tweetdeck (soon to be XPro) are great resources.
  • Produce high-quality content: Not all content is created equal. Before you post something on social media, be sure it will educate, engage, inspire, or motivate your audience. Find ways to diversify your content and help it stand out from your competitors.
  • Keep consumers informed: If you decide to remove certain social media content, make sure you explain why. Don't be afraid to be open and honest with your customers.

No matter your industry or how long you’ve been around, you should anticipate negative brand mentions. Even if you do everything right, there will likely be a brand mention or two that plays on a loyal customer’s heartstrings and results in vicarious shame followed by disengagement. By being aware of this and taking steps to mitigate it, you can set your brand up for success.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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