HBJ Gateley partner Addi Shamash and Bryan Garvie, director at communications agency The BIG Partnership, told IPs at this year’s ICAS insolvency seminar how social media can help their work. Here are their five top tips from the session.

Social media isn’t often seen as a means to deliver the CPR required for a distressed or insolvent business. Sure, it’s frequently the first port of call for aggrieved customers, frustrated employees in fear of their jobs, and even well-meaning politicians eager to show their constituents they’re getting stuck in.

When it comes to improving creditor return, or even the fortunes of the business, missing out on social media is to miss an opportunity. More accurately, to miss out on digital marketing is to miss an opportunity.

Social media is one element of digital marketing, and probably the best-understood. Most people get Facebook, everyone will have seen a YouTube video at some stage, and Twitter and LinkedIn remain hugely influential in buying decisions and corporate reputations across the world.

Then there’s the arsenal of paid-for tools which subtly edge your target audience towards your way of thinking or, better yet, towards an online check-out.

At a recent ICAS insolvency conference, we spoke about how social and digital marketing can be a valuable part of trying to steady the ship if things have turned choppy. Here were our five main points:

1. Communicate quickly and often
Early communication is absolutely critical. As well as considering your message to the press, you need to replicate that process across all communications channels. If there’s a vacuum, someone will fill it, and not often with anything good. Better to be on the front foot and in control, even if it’s a tough message, than constantly fighting a rearguard action and looking unprepared.

2. Take a commercial look at marketing
Review which channels are delivering commercial value, and look at it in forensic detail – if there isn’t internal resource, or you simply want someone who doesn’t have a previous attachment, bring in an expert with a demonstrable track record who can give you a brutally honest appraisal. Pay-per-click, search engine optimisation, website conversions, display ads and remarketing are all powerful elements of a successful digital campaign – but only if you’re doing it right in the first place.

3. Keep talking
Don’t think that because you’ve issued a statement and set up a landing page for worried customers that the job is done. Monitor social media channels for changing sentiment or damaging themes which might emerge – that way you can address them if necessary and be prepared to respond if need be. Consider using social channels for selling the business or assets of the business. Sponsored content on LinkedIn, for example, allows you to target very narrow audiences, and you’ll only be charged if someone clicks your content.

4. Report, tweak, test. Repeat.
Keep reviewing activity and adapting it for the best results. What worked two weeks ago might be less effective now, for all sorts of reasons, so keep an eye on it and don’t let it become stagnant. Constantly refreshing your tactics to keep pace with your audience demands will help you make up lost ground.

5. Face your fears.
Don’t be scared of social media. The reality is you don’t really have a choice now anyway. Conversations will be taking place about you, and particularly any insolvent businesses for which you’re acting, with or without your input, so it’s better to be inside the tent than out. Anything really negative or too hysterical isn’t worth responding to, but you will be able to spot and often resolve genuine concerns from customers or staff. More than that, you might actually be able to turn it to your advantage and use it as a way to bring in cash.

If you would like any further information on any employment issues please contact Ann Frances Cooney, Senior Associate, Employment on 0141 574 2312 or AFCooney@hbjgateley.com