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Artechulate Blog

Articulating *your* message using Social Technology...

What to do when Social goes wrong?

Don_t_panic_button [First posted on the Social Enterprise (Down Under) Blog.]

Everyone can think of an example where a company or organisation has been "flamed" on Facebook or Twitter - and recently in Australia there seems to have been a spate of them.  So we thought it might be helpful to provide some advice and tips on what do to when your brand is threatened in the Social Web.

For some help on this we were able to turn to two of our our sister sites.  First, the "Social Success" site where very recently, Xabier Ormazabal wrote a six-point plan on dealing with negative comments in Social Media.  Also, over on the Radian6 blog, David Thomas - our Director of Social Strategy - also has some sound advice for coping when a crisis hits.

Both agree on a few of points which are well worth emphasising:

  1. Stay vigilant. It is important to monitor you social media channels so when negative comments hit - you can react as quickly as possible.  Falling on deaf ears only builds the frustration and anger customers feel.
  2. Be prepared to say "sorry".   Being transparent and open and ready to admit short-comings will quickly disarm and dissolve the situation.
  3. Empathise.  It is very important to show that you understand the seriousness of the problem, peoplke need to know that you care.
  4. Have a plan.  It is very difficult to throw together a strategy on the fly and in the eye of the storm.  Have a plan in place and know who your key protagonists are going to be.
  5. Get it offline.  As soon as is possible, try and take get to  apoint where you can manage customer's concerns offline and out of the glare of the public eye.  Try and connect on email or the phone 1-2-1.

But it is important to note that no one owns the internet and that you cannot shut down a crisis, the problem will only move somewhere else.  It is better to host the conversation on your own channel than have it break out all over.  So never delete or attempt to ignore a problem: it won't go away it will only get worse.  Alleviating a social media crisis is only done by carefull and skilfull management.

One final piece of advice is to recognise that a crisis does present an opportunity. Exemplary behaviour in a crisis provides the opportunity to earn the respect of your customers and of the public at large.  A great example of how a company has turned a crisis into a success is the way FedEx responded to a Social Media uproar about the way one of their couriers delivered a package by throwing it over the fence: