Admit it. We are all guilty of posting something on social media that we wish we could take back. For most people, deleting the post or picture and pretending it never happened is generally the prescribed plan of action. However, many businesses are learning that while social media can be a powerful public relations tool, the World Wide Web can also be a messy and unforgiving place.
Major corporations such as U.S. Airways have suffered huge missteps on social media recently and though posts can be deleted, screen captures and shares will immortalize their memory for good. As a crucial customer service tool and one of your first lines of defense when it comes to public relations, it is important to know how to handle yourself well during a crisis. Here are five tips for managing a social media scandal and minimizing damage from the fallout.
- Have a strategy. There is a reason why risk communication was invented. Whether your business is big or small, make sure that you are well prepared for any incident that casts your organization in a bad light by evaluating the risks and all possible scenarios. From a bad customer review to a major snafu, anticipating the worst and hammering out a plan of action will allow your team to respond quickly and efficiently to any melee and begin the process of rectifying it.
- Listen to your customers. The media has a funny way of dragging up every misstep and analyzing it to death, but the only opinion that matters is that of your customers. When your customers are unhappy with your service or how you have handled a situation, you will know it immediately if you just check your social media page. Being honest about your mistakes and listening to what your customers want can help turn a negative moment into a catalyst for positive growth.
- Be Proactive. Remember the olden days when the customer was always right? Well, that may not always be the case, but one thing is for sure when it comes to social media scandals: perception is everything. Facing a negative situation head on and following the right steps to correct the situation can mean the difference between looking like a pro or like a chicken with its head cut off. Do your best to make things right and avoid saying too much or arguing with customers or the media. Professionalism and grace under fire go a long way in establishing lasting credibility.
- Stick to your company policy. This is one of those golden rules that a lot of businesses forget in the midst of a crisis. Your policy is there for a reason, mainly to ensure that your business exceeds personal and professional standards and operates within all legal and ethical requirements. Panicking and reacting on a whim will not only have negative effects on relationships with your clients, but can also land you in deeper trouble.
- Use SEO. There is no way to make this any clearer! SEO is your friend. It not only ranks your business so that your products and services can easily be found, it is also one of the most important tools in reputation management. The minute a scandal or negative press happens, the first thing most people will do is search for your business online and chances are the first thing they will see will be the mess that you’re currently in. Using SEO content and feeding it to your social media pages will trump negative press with information about the good that your business has done as well as how committed you are to satisfying concerns from customers which goes a long way in helping manage your negative issues.
You are not alone. For help navigating the tricky world of social media or protecting your business from negative public perception, contact us today and learn more about our new media and public relations services.