Social Media Crisis Management
When something goes wrong for your brand on social media, the ramifications can be disastrous. If and when a social media crisis arises, you’re going to want to know how to put the fire out. Handling the situation in a careful and measured manner is paramount to the protection of your brand’s reputation. In this article we explore some of the common scenarios and questions we get asked in regard to social media crisis management and how to develop a sound social media crisis management plan.
Having a social media crisis or issues plan in place is the most important step for successfully managing a social media crisis. Your plan should remain up-to-date and should be referred to whenever your brand is negatively represented on social media. In your plan, you should include a step by step process indicating how, when and if you should respond to a negative statement, an escalation plan indicating steps involved if escalation is required and guidelines for monitoring the situation, including a cooling-off time period.
Facebook Crisis Management
With Facebook’s extensive reach and strong engagement, a bad Facebook review or critical Facebook comment on one of your company’s posts can make a big impact. Here’s how to handle both of these scenarios.
Dealing With Negative Facebook Reviews
The key priority when dealing with negative reviews on Facebook is to ensure that the customer is heard, feels their concern has been acknowledged and that the appropriate action is taken to rectify the issue.
We recommend responding to the review publicly by commenting on the review. Your response should include an apology if necessary, an acknowledgement that you will take steps to rectify the issue and if necessary an invitation to the reviewer to take the conversation offline to resolve. This will not only appease the reviewer but will also show others who see the review that you have responded well and take customer service seriously. Check out our social media crisis ‘dos’ in this article for more information.
The next step is to try to collect more positive reviews to outweigh any negative reviews you may have received. This will give that one negative review less weight and ensure your rating remains high. Ask your customers regularly to review your business on Facebook. It’s a good idea to send them instructions on how to share a Facebook review to make the process as seamless as possible.
How to Deal with Negative Facebook Comments
When determining a course of action for dealing with a negative comment on one of your Facebook posts, the first thing to assess is whether the comment breaches your social media policy. If it does (for example it is defamatory, racist or sexist) then you may be able to delete the comment in line with the procedures listed in your social media policy.
If, however, the comment does not breach your policy and is instead simply a critical or negative comment about your business, then you should think very carefully before deleting the comment. That can appear like you have something to hide and may incite further backlash.
Instead, the best course of action is to respond to the person to ensure they feel heard and their concern has been acknowledged. If appropriate, apologise and let the person know you will take steps to address the issue. If this isn’t appropriate, simply acknowledge the concern and explain anything that may require explanation. The important thing to remember is that your comment, while directed at the one person, can be viewed by many others, so ensure it is polite and helpful. Check out our social media crisis ‘dos’ in this article for more information on this.
Google My Business
The quality of your business’ presence on Google is of utmost importance. With Google’s reach, it is critical that people can find you on Google, and that the content about your business on Google is positive and accurate.
Dealing with Google My Business Negative reviews
Your Google reviews and your overall rating display in your business listing on Google, and therefore are some of the first things customers will see when they search for you on Google.
When you receive a poor review on Google we recommend replying to the review. When appropriate you should apologise and let the reviewer know what steps you will take to resolve the issue. You may want to extend an invitation to the reviewer to take the conversation offline to resolve. Remember, everyone who searches for you on Google will be able to see the review as well as your reply, so make sure you take the time to craft a good response. Check out our social media crisis ‘dos’ in this article for more information on this.
Following that, your goal should be to gain more positive reviews. You may want to show customers how to submit a Google review, to make the process easier on them.
Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Business listings
Did you know that a Google Maps, Google Earth or Google Business listing can leave you embroiled in a social media crisis? With Google’s enormous reach an incorrect or unflattering listing can be a real problem.
Examples may include incorrect store address or contact details on your Google business listing, or unflattering photos captured by Google Earth. In other cases someone else may have ‘claimed’ your business listing on Google. To rectify these issues, the best thing to do is to contact Google directly. You can reclaim your business listing from Google by taking these steps. You can update the photos on your Google listing by taking these steps.
Other review sites
Other review sites such as Truelocal, TripAdvisor, Zomato and Yelp, can influence your reputation online. When possible, undertake the same steps as you would with Facebook or Google reviews, responding to the review and attempting to attract more positive reviews. Check out our social media crisis ‘dos’ in this article for more information.
If you have acquired several negative reviews across multiple sites, you may need to invest in a more comprehensive digital reputation management program. The goal would be to build your SEO so that the negative reviews aren’t the first thing people are seeing when they search for your business online. It’s best to work with the experts to guide you on how to best address this.
Social media crisis management ‘dos’
Here are three simple steps for dealing with an unhappy customer on social media which we recommend should be included in your social media crisis plan.
1. Assess the situation
Assessing the intentions of a negative social media post will help you decide whether or not you need to take action. If the comment or post is arbitrary and doesn’t identify a specific issue, it is likely that you will not need to respond. In this case your plan of action should be to monitor the post to ensure the trouble doesn’t amplify. Set yourself a cooling- off period following the date of the post in which you monitor the statement regularly, ensuring further action isn’t required. After the cool-off period, leave the post alone.
If a negative post or comment is directly identifying a problem with your business or products, if it is defamatory or untrue, it is time to take action. Taking action requires two steps: finding a solution for the problem and responding to the statement.
2. Find a tailored solution
If a customer complains about your brand on social media, it’s important to create a tailored solution for the customer. You should address the issue, fix it if possible, or formulate a response which helps your customer find a resolution.
3. Respond to the complaint
When responding to a customer’s complaint, it’s important to remain positive regardless of whether or not the customer’s complaint is valid. In your response, you should identify the problem and present the tailored solution you have created for the customer.
If the customer’s negative statement about your brand is true, it’s important to take action to fix the issue before responding. Your response should include an apology and if the problem has been fixed, a breakdown of the steps that have been taken to resolve the problem. If the issue can’t immediately be resolved, point your customer in the right direction to find a solution and/or more information. For example, you might include the email address of your complaint management representative.
When responding to an untrue statement about your brand, it’s important to ensure your response remains positive and directly identifies the customer’s concern. In your response, you should point the customer in the right direction to find accurate information regarding their complaint.
Following your response to both true and untrue statements, it’s important to continue monitoring the situation until your cooling-off period has concluded.
Social media crisis management ‘dont’s’
Here are a few things you should never do when responding to a social media crisis:
- Ignore it without even assessing whether that’s the best course of action
- Get angry or defensive in your replies to comments or reviews
- Jump straight to deleting or removing a customer comment or review without asking why
- Become overwhelmed by worry – it’s perfectly normal to receive a negative review or comment now and again, and as long as you handle it well, it can ultimately be a positive experience
If you would like help creating your own social media crisis plan, get in touch with us today.