In a world where one wrong click can be broadcast for all to see, social media crises are bound to happen. When it’s your business’s name and reputation at stake in the heat of the mess, recovery seems like a far-fetched wish. However, by following these simple, key steps, your business has a more than fair chance of coming out of the mess not only unscathed, but stronger than ever before.
1. Recognize the Problem. The first step to recovery is to realize what the actual crisis is. What went wrong? How did it start? How have viewers and followers been affected, and why are others joining the war against your brand? In order to help answer these questions, you may want to enlist the help of social media listening tools, which allow you to monitor the conversations pertaining to your company.
2. Address the Issue. You will need to publicly acknowledge the situation as quickly as possible. The faster you address the problem, the better. Do not try to avoid or ignore the issue, as it will only further anger and aggravate your challengers. Along with being speedy in your response, make sure to be honest with your audience; they can spot a cover-up when they see one. Be real with them, and take it upon yourself to take responsibility for the situation. If you were in the wrong, admit it. Taking the responsibility for your actions can turn even the most upset of individuals into understanding, loyal customers.
3. Allow People to Express Themselves. People will feel the need to share and express their frustration. Instead of cutting off their access and forcing them to go elsewhere, continue to address the issue through a page you administer, such as one on your Facebook or Twitter account. Not only will it provide your customers with the outlet they need in order to move past the issue, but it will also ensure that you remain in control of the conversations and remain aware of what all is being said. As bad as the comments may be, do not delete them. This will only cause even more destructive comments, and it will also cause any last remains of respect from your confused and reacting customers to be torn to shreds.
4. Remain Calm. Whatever you do, do not engage in a public back-and-forth argument with users. Even responding in like with their negative comments will only make things worse, and your company will no doubt be seen as the villain. Whether the customer comments are valid or not, they will be hurtful and offensive. Prepare yourself ahead of time to not react as one normally would. Instead, swallow the offenses and put yourself into the shoes of your complainants to better understand where they are coming from.
5. Create a Crisis-Information Page. Designate a particular part of your website to address, from start to finish, the details of the social media crisis, as well as the steps you and your company have taken or will take in order to improve the situation. Not only will it show customers that you acknowledge the issue and are not trying to hide from it, but it will also show your company’s ability to shine and stand its ground through its most difficult of situations. Also, if the situation ever comes up again, you will be able to simply direct your customers to all the information they need to know.
Though the situations are by no means a walk in the park, a social media fiasco does not have to be the end of your business. Aside from following the foregoing steps, it may also prove helpful to establish – beforehand – a well-thought-through plan of action for your business to take should a situation of this nature ever occur.