Regardless of how big or small your business is, it will be important to be prepared to deal with negative criticism when it comes your way via any channel including social media platforms. It’s not a good idea to ignore any negative comments when they are made against your services or products. It’s also important that you don’t react in a negative way as this can look bad and lower your reputation.
There are many examples of high profile campaigns designed to handle crisis social media situations. These are specifically implemented as a measure to control damage to a company’s reputation and they are put in place by experts who specialise in social media management and digital communications.
One well-known example of this is the Sea World Twitter campaign which was hijacked by those claiming to be animal rights activists. The campaign was designed to get people to send in their questions about how to care for whales but the campaign was a disaster.
Even though your business is likely not as big as Sea World it can still be damaged with negative news and opinions. You need to be able to have a plan in place to combat negativity and prevent a social media disaster. You’ll do this in part by listening to your followers and your fans.
Sometimes it’s not easy to discover someone talking negatively about your company unless they blatantly tag you in their social media post. This is why having a way to monitor social media is of great importance. In fact, it’s part of the foundation to averting a social media disaster.
You can do the monitoring manually or you can set up a social media management platform. For those who are going to check it manually, you’ll need to run checks on your company name as well as your most important products or services. Also, you’ll need to check on relevant keywords that are typically used in your industry along with running checks on your competitors.
It’s a lot easier for most business owners to use a social media management platform. Apps such as HootSuite give you the tools to set up streams for important words and hashtags as well as monitoring ones for your competitors all within one dashboard.
The impact that your company has on social media will be important. A small business may be able to monitor things manually.
Large companies often get many more comments and this means a monitoring management system for social media will be helpful and often needed.
Learn To Pick The Right Time To Engage
It’s common for business owners and managers to make things worse by not understanding when they should engage in conversations. Picking your battles is a skill you need to develop.
When you find negative conversations you need to determine whether you should engage with them or simply observe them. In situations where things seem especially negative then this is a time you might want to take action to minimise any further impact.
If, as an example, you have a legal firm and someone has said your practice is not any good then your reply should reflect thoughtfulness and demonstrate why others should see you with good standing. Often replying directly is best. When possible, keep your conversations off of social media.
If you come across comments suggesting that legal practices in general in your area are no good then there’s no effective reason to engage in those comments. In a situation like that, you would just observe the comments to see where they go. If you get involved in that conversation you could invite unnecessary negativity that could negatively impact your business.
If you find a criticism is a mistake then that’s a good chance to respond using your social media channels. Keep an eye on your followers and your fans to make sure they are not leaving.
What To Do When You Have A Full-Blown Crisis
If you find yourself in a storm of social media negativity then there are things you’ll need to do to counteract this. It’s important that you respond as quickly as possible.
The earlier you are able to take positive action, the easier it will be to minimise the negativity and restore your good name on your social media channels. Consumers don’t like to be ignored.
When possible, address each comment separately. If there are a huge number of comments then it might not be possible to address each one unless you involve others to help.
If you have a situation where there are many comments and no way for you to respond to them all then you can post a more general message that addresses the primary root cause of the comments. If you ignore negative comments you risk damaging the reputation of your business.
Arguing with a customer will do more harm than good. If you are suffering from a tremendous crisis of negativity then you’ll want to respond to those comments with as much brevity as possible and ask each person to speak with you in more detail privately through an email or phone call. Too many negative comments on social media can be disastrous.
You will want to make sure that everyone in your business that should be aware of the crisis is aware of it. If they are clueless to what’s going on they may respond inappropriately. This means they could aggravate the situation further.
What Should You Do After The Crisis Comes To An End?
Despite a difficult situation you managed to minimise the damage. Now you want to take an examination of the damage to see how it has impacted your brand. Then you want to make a plan for preventing something similar happening again.
This might mean providing employees with crisis management training or even creating test exercises that will better prepare them for handling a full-blown crisis. Social media may not be seen as a typical place your business would experience a disaster.
Even so, it is where unhappy customers tell the world about their unhappiness which puts your reputation in danger. It’s for this reason that you need to be diligent about monitoring negative comments and be prepared to handle them as quickly as possible.