Lately we’ve seen several local organizations struggle with crisis communication and this quick list will hopefully curb that trend. Thanks to the instantaneous nature of social media, organizations no longer have the luxury of days (or even hours) to respond to criticism. A quick response can minimize the amount of damage before a full-on firestorm ensues. In addition to contacting Tellwell to help, here are six things to remember when responding to crisis or negativity on social.
- Never Delete* Social media is just that, social. Friends of people who like, comment, or share a post can see the whole situation. By deleting or comments allowed on your post, it can look like you’re trying to hide something. It won’t work and it will come back to bite you. *If the comment is offensive or personal, you need to delete it. Offensive can mean many different things to different people – come up with a strategy and common language to use in your environment.
- Know the facts It’s easy to respond with something generic like, “I’ll check and get back to you.” Instead of giving the person another opportunity to respond, know the facts before going into your response.
- Respond and Quickly! This is the most important! Whomever posted the negative comment wants to be heard. Make sure they know they are heard and you are not ignoring the issue. Try to drive the conversation offline so you respect the privacy of the poster and save face for your company. This may mean getting a customer service representative involved as well. As a community manager, you’re not expected to have all the answers, but you should know where to find them.
- Don’t take it personally You take ownership of your community and it’s easy to start taking comments to heart. Don’t let them get to you. They don’t know where to vent and the social community is a place they feel they can do just that. No matter what, don’t respond in haste or in defense. This type of message can sound unprofessional and can hurt your organization’s reputation.
- Let your Community Lift You Up Is your organization in ‘the right?’ Your social community can do a great job of lifting up and self-policing some of the criticizers. Utilize those folks, but be empowered to chime in when facts might be a little off. Referencing back to #1, deleting all comments might not only fuel the fire of criticizers, but alienate the community that already loves you.
- Document it Be consistent in your response to the same types of posts. Document it and have it in your arsenal for future responses.
No matter how much emphasis an organization places on crisis prevention, life happens. If you don’t have the expertise needed to confront a challenging communication situation, you may need to consider external help.
Our world is social – be prepared to address challenging posts in real-time. Don’t let a communication crisis negatively impact your brand. Be careful with your posts and be ready with a strategy in place if a crisis should arise.