Managing Online Communities While Returning to Operation

Jun 12, 2020

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Posted by
Marianne Brimmell
Communications Specialist

With Phase 2 of BC's Restart Plan underway, REALTORS® may encounter concerns or criticism from consumers, especially online. In the latest episode of Open House by BCREA: Returning to Work and Risks to REALTOR® Reputation, Ari Indyk, VP Crisis and Risk at Edelman, provides advice on mitigating and responding to consumer concerns as we navigate this "new normal." Below, you will find some of Ari's tips for managing your online communities while returning to operation.

1. Communicate proactively

 "Clearly communicate about the operational and policy changes you've implemented and how they're intended to protect employees, clients and the broader public."

Ensure you've communicated with your online community about the ways you've adapted your operations to prioritize the health and safety of your clients and employees. Share this proactively across your communication channels - social media, website, newsletter, etc. - to reduce the potential for confusion, concern or misinformation, and prepare your clients for what to expect during your next business interaction.

2. Develop a list of FAQs

"Start to think through some of those high-risk, high-possibility questions you might be receiving from your clients about how you're reacting to COVID-19 or how it impacts the transaction process."

Whether formally or informally, prepare a list of frequently asked questions you anticipate receiving from your clients about how you've adapted your business practices to prioritize health and safety. This will allow you to respond quickly when you receive a question or concern from a client or online community member.

3.  Continue marketing but "solve, don't sell" 

"Canadians don't expect that local businesses are going to stop marketing their services, but there does need to be a change in approach within the current environment. This can be summed up with, 'solve, don't sell'."

While your clients don't expect you to stop marketing altogether, it's important to remember the golden rule of marketing: "solve, don't sell." When promoting yourself online or through social media, emphasize how your services can help solve a need, while being sensitive to the ways the pandemic may have affected your clients.

4. Avoid tone-deaf marketing content

"When thinking about the [marketing] content you're developing, make sure it's social distancing appropriate and aligns with the current health guidelines in your region." 

Always consider the pandemic when developing marketing content and ensure it's aligned with current health and safety guidelines. For example, avoid using imagery that suggests you are not following social distancing protocols or other recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer.    

5. Think before you type

"Remember, whatever you write on the internet is going to be there forever, so think twice before you start commenting online."

When responding to negative feedback online, make sure you have a coherent response thought out, as well as escalation pathways if the conversation continues. This could mean taking the conversation offline rather than leaving it in full public view and preparing for follow-up questions your response might receive.  

For more tips on mitigating and responding to consumer concerns as you resume operations, listen to the full episode of Open House by BCREA: Returning to Work and Risks to REALTOR® Reputation with Ari Indyk, VP Crisis and Risk at Edelman.

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