No form of marketing has ever been as effective and readily accessible to all as social media is today. A few years ago the only way to gain exposure in front of millions was to pay top dollar for it. Today, anyone with a creative mind, a little luck, and a video camera can get their message out to an unlimited number of people.
Social media is a wonderfully potent means of marketing, but it can also be potent in a negative sense.
After painstakingly developing a relationship with customers, gaining their trust, and building an enthusiastic community, it’s not fun to get an egg in the face through some form of negative social media. Here are a few examples of negative social media that happen to even the best of businesses…
- One disgruntled customer complains about your brand thus tarnishing your brand name in front of your entire community
- Bum YouTube review
- You admit to a mistake before anyone else knows about it
- A prominent (or even not so prominent) blog or website ‘exposes’ your brand for something that is either true, false, or totally exaggerated
- Bad offline press that gets its fair share of buzz in social media
What to Do About Negative Social Media
The first step to dealing with negative social media exposure should ideally start way before the problem ever occurs. There should be a clear course of action that your business has set up to counteract any negative exposure. In addition to having a clear plan of what needs to be done, there should be a clearly designated order of who should deal with each aspect of a social media emergency.
Here are some aspects of an effective social media disaster comeback.
- Speed – Don’t let the poison fester, once it’s out there, as long as you don’t deal with it, it will get worse. Stepping up to the plate quickly shows your customers that you are always there for them, even when it is most uncomfortable for you.
- Say sorry, if applicable- If you made a mistake, admit it, and tell your customers what you are going to be doing to fix that mistake. This shows that you are responsible for your actions, and it shows customers that you are taking a real responsibility for them. If you do this well, you will not only install more trust, you will be able to turn a potential disaster into an opportunity.
- If there is a disgruntled customer involved see what you can do to appease them.
- If your company made a mistake which affected the entire community explain to them what happened. Customers appreciate when an executive, and not just the social media crew, stands up and communicates with them. This tells them that they are important, and the problem is being dealt with at the highest levels of the company.
Once you have a good emergency plan in place, do some practice drills. Consider a few different emergency scenarios which could possibly occur, and deal with them on the spot. By conducting a few drills you can pound out some of the unanticipated glitches that will inevitably occur. Everyone will learn and understand their personal contribution to the cause a lot better after doing a drill.
What about you, have you ever experienced a social media emergency? Please do share any experiences, your views and opinions in the comment section below.
Image courtesy of Flickr, user: smemon