After a social media misstep, some bad publicity or another issue, it can feel like your brand is under attack. Hundreds of angry internet denizens, many of whom have never done business with you, are retweeting and tweeting at you on Twitter, resharing and commenting on everything you do on Facebook and filling your previously five-star online reviews with vitriol.
Is there anything a brand can do about this?
Those who have taken the time to learn about crisis management and have stayed prepared and ready can put out the flames and rescue a suddenly faltering reputation. Consider this preparation and the team you need to support it your reputation command center.
Here are a few of the tools and strategies you need to ensure your brand comes through a crisis intact:
Twenty-four Hour a Day Social Media Monitoring
The business world is no longer a Monday through Friday gig. In many cases, your biggest crisis communications challenges will pop up on the evenings or weekends when most social media pros are far from their posts. On a Friday in January of 2013, an unhappy Applebee’s waitress posted an image of a receipt on Reddit. On the receipt, a patron had crossed out an automatic 18% gratuity and written: “I give God 10% why do you get 18.” The customer left nothing for service. The receipt image sped around the internet, getting shared on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs like “If You Can’t Afford to Tip.”
Applebee’s fired the server for sharing the receipt, then posted about the action near the end of the day, compounding matters.
As negative comments piled up on the brand’s Facebook page at the rate of hundreds and sometimes thousands an hour, a person with access to the Applebee’s Facebook page began answering at 2:53 am ET. The comments defended the decision to fire the server, which just added fuel to the fire.
These comments managed to make posters more angry, not less. They are an example of why you need level heads handing your social media at every time of day.
While many brands cannot afford to have someone on-call specifically to handle social media, there are other options. Employees can volunteer to get alerts or the task can be handed to a crisis communications consultant.
Training in What to Say
As any crisis consultant will tell you, there are answers that can smooth over a crisis and ones that will just make your brand look worse. When dating app Tinder didn’t like what Vanity Fair had to say about them, they took to Twitter with a trio of angry posts. Ranging from desperation for good press (“You could have talked about how users build a Tinder profile that expresses who they are”) to bargaining and nitpicking “Talk to our many users in China and North Korea who find a way to meet people on Tinder even though Facebook is banned,” the posts only drew more attention to the critical article. The posts were deleted the next day and an apology for overreacting was left in their place.
In some cases, an apology or an admission that you need to do better is the way to go. In others, social and traditional media swipes should be met with silence. In no case should a brand fight back. Knowing how and when to respond id the key to effective reputation management.
The Ability to Make It Right
More and more customers are heading to social media when they have a problem with a product or a service. The people who monitor your social media accounts need to be able to react quickly and effectively when a customer shares a problem.
Some brands have achieved success in this area by creating a process for a complaint to be routed to private messaging. This allows the customer to stay on their preferred platform and get the resolution they want.
In other cases, unhappy customers just want to be heard. When UK telecommunications company O2 suffered a major outage, many of their customers took to Twitter to complain. Thousands of customers had completely lost 2G or 3G networks, crashing mobile, landline and broadband services. The company saw its Twitter follower count increase by 13,500 a day. Instead of issuing a generic corporate apology — or doing nothing at all — the brand answered each tweet personally and compassionately. They apologized to each user and asked if there were still problems with their service. Instead of suffering the sort of loss that might follow a major outage, O2 was able to publicly demonstrate their deep commitment to their customers.
A social media incident is nearly inevitable. A magazine may write something critical of your brand. A product rollout may be delayed. A social media manager may lose their phone or make a miscalculation when posting.
When your brand is well prepared, reputation crises become smaller and more manageable. By having the training, knowledge, and experience to cope quickly and gracefully, you can come out of any misstep or problem with your reputation intact.
Can we help you?
Building an effective crisis management process that incorporates crisis management, crisis communications, and other functions within your firm is what we do here at Bryghtpath.
Bryghtpath has built the crisis management plans and frameworks for many Fortune 500 organizations, non-profits, and public sector agencies. Our firm has more than a century of experience in developing actionable plans to help prepare organizations for the unexpected. Our expertise includes crisis communications and emergency plans/exercises.
Contact us today at +1.612.235.6435 or via our contact form.