If major brands like Coca-Cola, DC Comics, and Blackberry slip up and ignite social media rage, with an army of experts crafting and targeting each message, you can bet that you will too at some point in your company’s lifetime. When that tweet gets taken the wrong way and spreads like wildfire, what will you do to protect your brand?
Social media offers unparalleled access to your customers, allowing you to form your brand’s image in their minds in real time. But such access to the hearts and minds of your market comes with a price. One bad customer experience, spread across Twitter or Facebook, could destroy your reputation in hours. One mistimed or ill-formed post could undermine everything your brand stands for. Even if you carefully screen and scrutinize what you post, these unintentional slip-ups catch heat quickly and spread quickly.
Just ask Coca-Cola. The soft drink company posted to a Russian social media site, wishing visitors a happy New Year. The post featured a map of Russia. It only had one problem: the map didn’t include Crimea. Russia had annexed Crimea in 2014, and the Russian backlash to the oversight was vocal. Thousands called for the soft drink to be banned throughout Russia.
Or ask Blackberry. The company once posted an amazing picture showing off its newest device in all its glory. But tech-smart users quickly noticed the caption Twitter provides under each post, ratting out the fact that the post was sent from an iPhone and not a Blackberry device.
So how do you put out the fire when such a snafu happens to you? Plan ahead, so you can fix any Social Media crisis that comes your way.
Remove The Content
When the avalanche of angry feedback makes it clear your Tweet or post was out of line, remove it right away. Stop the bleeding before it gets any worse. This won’t stop your content from spreading. But it’s the first step toward repairing the damage.
It doesn’t matter if you feel the post was clever or appropriate. Your social media presence exists to convince others that your brand is trustworthy. When Tweets backfire and the avalanche of backlash comes, accept that you’ve missed the mark, delete the content, and get to work repairing the damage.
Seek To Understand, Then Seek To Be Understood
Managing the aftermath of a social media fail is less about being right and more about being compassionate. Listen carefully to the objections – even the ones filled with heated rhetoric that at first makes no sense. Listen to find the heart of the offense, so your damage control strategy plugs the right holes. Otherwise, you’ll seem out of touch and make things worse.
When an angry mob decides your message was heartless and cruel, sincerely apologize. Swallow your pride and your excuses. Admit you were wrong, accept the blame, and vow to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Where’d the offending post originate? That’s where you start. Was it an angry customer venting on Twitter? Apologize on Twitter first. An ill-conceived jab on Facebook that stirred up anger? Post to Facebook and apologize to those you’ve offended.
This world is a forgiving place. If you own it, say you’re sorry, and do everything you can to make it right, you’ll rehabilitate your brand’s image over time.
Have A Full Statement Prepared For The Media
The media loves covering wildfires, so prepare for the kind of coverage you don’t want with a well-thought-out statement about why you’re sorry. State the values your company stands for, state them boldly, and announce the steps you’ve taken to right the wrongs of your social media fail.
Long after the sting of the backlash, you’ll shine if you show you’re a company that responds to customers, owns up to its mistakes, and humbly serves your community.
Equip Your Entire Team With The Appropriate Response
When the media comes calling, does every person in your office know what to say? Each person in your organization is a potential spokesperson. Through LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends, and creative searches, media members could seek a comment from anyone at any time.
The last thing you need is an unprepared team member adding fuel to the fire with a quote that doesn’t adequately convey your company’s message in response to the crisis.
Develop A Centralized Response
On your website, create a section or blog post dedicated to the crisis. Establish an FAQ that answers the critical questions on your own turf and in your own terms. Be up front and honest in your explanation of events. Include the appropriate photos, videos, screenshots, and anything required to explain the situation as thoroughly as necessary.
Report how you discovered the offending material, who you informed, what you did about it and when all of this occurred. What specific steps did you take to respond? What steps are you taking to make sure this doesn’t happen again? Include these details to allay fears and squelch anger.
Finally, who inside your company can people contact with further questions? If the public can contact a real person for real answers, you’ll be well on your way to stemming the tide.
Make Sure It Doesn’t Happen Again
What went wrong? How could you plan your social media strategy with more sensitivity and awareness of the culture you’re inserting yourself into? If you haven’t yet, develop a presence on every social media platform you can. Even if you don’t post regularly, you’ll need to be stationed wherever the next crisis hits so you can respond quickly and effectively.
Will you be ready when that accidental tweet from the wrong account draws heat? Or when the trending hashtag you tried to capitalize on wasn’t about what you thought it was? Keep this guide handy, so you’re armed with a battle plan the next time a social media fail wreaks havoc for your brand.
Looking for more ways to be brilliant? Whether you’re launching a new product no one knows about yet or looking to steal the limelight from giants in your industry, call us today to talk about how our branding, public relations, and digital marketing can take your business to the next level.