I remember one of our first clients came crying through the door. “My business is failing and it is all because of someone wrote this horrible Facebook comment about my company. Worse. They put it on my Facebook page, a page I don’t even update very frequently.”
It Is Common And Unfortunate
A social media crisis is like a wildfire in a rain starved dry forest. Once it gets going, it can be hard to contain and if not stopped, it can reduce your company to ashes.
A gripe or two does not mean a crisis is brewing but you might be amazed how quickly a spark can grow into an inferno. The net has the ability to make any incident an international one in minutes. On the web, there is no rule that says everyone needs to tell the truth. So you better be the one who is putting out the facts and the story out. You need the be the one telling your company story. At least this way, you get the story you want told, and if one other person says something to the contrary, well, it will be overwhelmed by all the positive messaging out there.
What Do You Do When A Crisis Hits?
The trick is the tightrope walk between reacting without over-reacting? Should you retreat and let things settle down and blow over or should you flood social media with your responses?
How you handle things from the very first minute the incidence occurs can make all the difference in the world. You have to know what to do and what action to take.
We’ve listed a few ways that you can tell when a comment is really something you should be worried about.
1. When What is Said Is not Normal
Recently Starbucks had an incident in the USA. The incident started with Twitter post about one of the Philedelphia stores. It was:
@Starbucks The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing.
Let’s think about the recent incident at Starbucks. It wasn’t someone complaining about waiting too long for their Latte to arrive. It was presented as a racial incident. That is a crisis in the making and was and had to be addressed immediately.
Starbucks took immediate action and a few days after the incident, the CEO had made an apology, and informed readers that their would be meetings and a thorough investigation, as well as more training so employees really knew when the right time to call the police was.
What is important for you to note here is that Starbucks did not go silent, they came back with a response, apologized for the action and offered a response as to important changes that would be made.
2. Your Company is Less Informed than Everyone Else
Your company is less informed about what happened than the general public is. That can be a disaster.You can not control the story or contain it if you are in the dark. Nothing is worse than being the last to know.
An example of this type of situation is when people start to leave poor comments about your business on review sites like Yelp. If you are not aware of what people are saying, you can’t do anything to solve the issue.
3. The Story Keeps Spreading
The continual spreading of a bad story can have a serious, prolonged and measured negative effect on the company.
Think about Listeria in your lettuce. Think about the window blowing out on a Southwest airline plane, or what happened to Tylenol years ago when their product was being tampered with on the shelves. Within 24 hours the company warned the public and began removing Tylenol from the shelves. The public is forgiving if you are forthcoming.
When you know the threat is real, act quickly, reasonably and responsibly.
Acknowledge the incident loud and clear. Don’t avoid it because you can be a dead duck if you do.
What Can You Do When Things Have Gone This Far Apologise
Say “sorry” as often as needed. Mia Culpa goes a long way with the public and their ability to forgive you and trust you again.Answer all questions and set up a system to handle both the questions and your answers.
Get Out As Far in Front of The Story As You Can
Don’t just be active, be proactive. Alert the media as quickly and openly as you can.
Have a crisis management plan in place long before you need one and train your people so their initial moves and statements will not be a mistake and make the problem worse.
The biggest mistake is to do nothing. In the absence of real facts, rumors will take hold.
Social media is a two-edged sword, it can cut both ways. For you or against you. You initial moves will put the sword in your handed not in your back.
Proactive Things You Can Do
Ok so now that you know that you can’t just sit back and ignore the problem. You have to do something and you have to do it quickly. What?
Here are a few actionable steps you can take when faced with a social media crisis.
1. Become Active on Social Media
Most people believe that social media is only a place to share selfies or baby photos, maybe even a few personal phrases or share political mumbo jumbo. It is goofing off online right? Wrong! For a business it is a way of showing people who you are, of building a positive reputation. As it is this that can improve your ROI in the future. Which is why it’s so important to develop a positive reputation on social media.
Make no mistake, this is work and it can’t be done instantly, or even over the course of a month. It needs to be ongoing. When you are building up your reputation you are in for the long haul. Keep in mind, it’s always better to have a social media presence than none at all.
2. Clean It Up
I once heard someone say, “You can’t add good hot tea to a stale half cup full of old tea.” It doesn’t taste the same. You need to do Spring Cleaning before you start a new social media campaign. Your social media profiles are the front door to your business. Review your profiles to ensure you have positive information, accurate business information and proper pictures that inspire and create a positive image for your business.
3. Add Keywords to Your Profile or Page
Add keywords to your pages. Yes. people search for services on social media platforms. So if you add keywords relating to your industry you set your page up so it is searchable. Pepper your profiles with words that people might use to find you. Include your profession, your expertise and more.
4. Add Professional Photos
Use photos that look good on your social media platforms. Images are more powerful than words and they add to your networking power and help you build trust.
5. Complete Profiles
Complete your profile. You would be amazed at how many people don’t complete their profiles. Add information about your company, your history, interests and add photos.
6. Back Up Good Information
Back up your assertions. Show proof of your good reputation. Share photos of your accomplishments.
7. Be Professional
Yes. be professional but show off your personality. It is a good idea to be yourself and remember that social media is fun. That’s what social media is about.
8. Handle Negative Complaints
This is super important. If you get negative complaints on social media, don’t ignore them. Be prepared to respond in a positive and professional way. Resolve those complaints quickly. And ignoring the issue will not get you there.
Handling a social media crisis is about being prepared. And this requires planning, creating a social media presence and adding positive information, reviews, and testimonials that speak wonders of your business.
How Do You Do This?
You start by becoming active on social media and posting interesting content that pertains to your service or industry. You post so much positive that the negative will not become an uncontrollable mess. You Thank people for participating and for bringing information to your attention. Yes. It takes time, but you can always get help. Hire the professionals at 5 Colors Media to help create a positive, functioning and informational social media presence for your company.