No matter how big or small your business or brand is, social media gives everyone the opportunity to have their say in the public domain about you.
Social Media is a marketers dream but it can also cause headaches if the sweet turns sour.
There are stories of brands that have been at the blunt end of very public attacks via social media channels but the upside is that if you are prepared with the right crisis plan a negative situation can be turned around into a positive brand opportunity. It is important to be prepared to come out of the crisis with your reputation intact with the opportunity to spread your brand name in a positive light.
So : What is a Social Media Crisis Plan?
A social media crisis plan is in effect a communication strategy.
Everything is now public. When a customer or client complains they often vent their frustrations on Facebook or Twitter. Both their and your followers will see and hear about the whole problem and what went wrong. Being prepared is important to resolve the situation as quickly and as painlessly as possible turning those unhappy customers into satisfied happy brand advocates.
Turn that negativity of your social media attack into a positive PR opportunity for your brand or business.
Firstly, the proper way to handle a social media crisis is to respond quickly & have a proper response. Now; there is no excuse in this day and age to not be monitoring what is being said about you online. There are many free tools you can use like Google Alerts & Brand Monitor. The key here is to listen to what your customers are saying about you. You can then ascertain the general feeling of the complaint or negative comments. Your customers know that everyone makes mistakes once in a while and the simple way to win back their trust is to be transparent about the situation. Come clean and admit a problem. It humanises your brand.
Even if you respond quickly and appropriately, you still have to fix the issue. People are upset for a reason, and you still need to correct the problem. It might not be a quick fix, but you need to let people know that you are handling the issue, and what steps will be taken to correct the problem. This is where you can use your social media presence such as Twitter, Facebook and your blog to communicate to customers what your plan is for handling the situation.
Tips For Your Social Media Crisis Plan
Take it seriously & respond quickly : More often than not, businesses fail to understand the impact of social media. It’s all too easy to cast aside Facebook & Twitter as a fad, but in reality these platforms are great ways to communicate to your potential & current customers. For you to survive take them seriously. Identify the issue in question and ask the individual concerned to contact you directly. If someone is directing comments at your employees or customers with profanity then you should delete them.
Don’t bury you head in the sand : The worst you can do is ignore the complaint hoping that it will go away and be forgotten. You need to tackle the crisis head on, and quickly. It’s easy to stay silent but information travels fast. Don’t be afraid to tackle the problem immediately as it can save you from a deeper social crisis in the longer term.
Don’t delete negative comments : By deleting negative posts you can aggravate the situation. It takes minutes for someone to go to a different channel or forum to leave the same comment so don’t just assume that simply deleting will stop the issue. Customers often start complaining elsewhere that their comments are being deleted!
Say Sorry : The two magic words that you need to say. Openly acknowledging a mistake is the biggest step in retaining customer loyalty.
Don’t forget all the channels : Remember that social media ripples through many channels. Twitter is usually the first place for a crisis to develop before moving onto Facebook and blogs. You will need to engage on all these channels.
Plan ahead : Lets hope that a crisis will never arise, but in the same way that you have fire drills : Be prepared for the worse. Think about how your team will tackle a crisis. Think how you will respond if a crisis happens outside of working hours. Have a ‘safety net’ plan in case the worst happens.
In today’s ever expanding online consumer driven world, your customers have greater ownership over social media. Big Companies understand that they have little control over how their brands are perceived or what is being said about them in the digital world.
If you provide great customer service then it can go a long way to impressing them and their followers watching the whole crisis unfold.
It is that first impression that leads to potential new customers.
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