I’m pretty sure that you have heard of the many companies that have experienced social media disasters. The various channels that are available these days offer a lot of opportunities, but also many pitfalls. And, those dangers are a big factor in the reasoning behind a complete avoidance of social media by many major companies.
However, with the right planning in place, social media is nothing to be scared of. And, you will find that any crisis that occurs on Facebook and Twitter can be turned into a positive.
In today’s guide, I’m going to run through some of the big issues that can occur on social media. I will also talk you through how to prepare your social media team to deal with these problems. As with anything in business, better planning will lead to more positive outcomes. So – start now by reading these essential guidelines.
The effect on your PR
Social media is, in essence, a public relations tool. However, it is different than more traditional PR tools in that your business does not have full control over it. For example, you are a lot more accountable on social media than you are when you post a press release. People will pull you up on things they feel unfair. They will start an argument with you if they think you are incorrect. And, if they are unhappy with your service they will shout out about it to as many people as possible. For this reason, it is critical that you know how to deal with some of the many incidents that can occur.
Always be listening
If you have a social media account, your followers, and customers will expect you to be present. That means if they ask a question, you need to hear it – and respond. But it also means using your accounts to take on board information that your customers are feeding to you. Failure to listen – and take action – in these matters will look bad on your part. It’s not good enough to have a social media account and leave your customers frustrated. And due to the public nature of social media, your inaction will be on view to everyone. So, consider investing in someone to deal with your accounts on a full-time basis. If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly, right?
Of course, it’s not always possible to be on social media 24/7. You might be a sole trader, or simply not have enough employees to manage your accounts full-time. If this is the case, make sure your customers know. Make it clear on each of your accounts that you will respond within 24 or 48 hours. As long as they understand when you return their queries, they will have nothing to complain about. Assuming, of course, that you stick to your part of the bargain.
Never cover up your negative press
It’s easy to deal with complaints simply by removing them from your feed. But is this a worthwhile pursuit? The chances are that other people will notice what you are up to – and they won’t take it kindly. Be upfront and honest – it’s the only tactic of use to any business. As long as you are proactive and try your best to resolve problems, people won’t have an issue with you. Own up to your mistakes. Apologize. Just be like an average person, and treat people how you would expect to be treated. This isn’t rocket science, yet so many companies out there make serious, simple mistakes. Don’t be one of them.
Develop a consistent tone
Consistency in tone is crucial on social media. While it is a less formal medium than, say, a press release, it is still important to think carefully about what you say. Keep things relevant to your brand. Post interesting, shareable content – and share other people’s ideas about your industry. Be thoughtful and friendly. Pitch your pages and accounts as communities rather than standard business pages.
Never lose your temper
Customers will rile you. They will make you angry. Some might even state untruths about you and your business. However, it is critical that you don’t take their bait and explode with fury while using your social media accounts. The simple truth is that even if you know, you are in the right, other customers will see your outburst. They will mark you down as unprofessional and uncooperative, and you will lose business. There’s a better way of approaching criticism online. Again, be professional and courteous at all times. Keep your cool, and customers will see it – and appreciate it.
Establish a crisis team
It’s also a good idea to develop a plan of action, according to AlertMedia. They suggest having a team in place, trained to handle moments of crisis. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a furious customer or spurious accusations. Acting fast and in a professional way can head off any further dangers in an instant. But who should be on the team? There are a vast array of social media professionals who are trained in dealing with crises. You can also use outside PR firms or HR professionals. Finally, it’s worth having a legal team on the other end of the phone. If someone is saying something untrue about your business, the law is a hand partner to have on your side.
Be careful who you hire
Part of the big reason why big companies are wary of social media is that they don’t want junior staff being the voice of the company. It’s something you should think about, too. Are the people you hire aware of the impact they can have on your business? Do they have the training behind them in both tone of voice and crisis management? And, most importantly, can you trust them? There is a lot of damage that can be done by angry employees. And it can be embarrassing for your company. Accidents can happen, too. A worker might be running two different accounts on their phones, for example. One might be yours, the other their personal account. It’s simple enough to make the mistake of posting on the wrong account. It is essential that you have established procedures to stop this from happening.
I hope this helps you understand some of the crises that can occur with social media – and how to fix them. Hit me up with your thoughts in the comments section below.