For businesses today, a social media presence is essential for employee attraction, brand equity, selling product and disseminating content. Industry sources estimate that 85 percent of U. S. consumers use social media. Social media channels allow businesses to interact with consumers and relay news in a timely and inexpensive manner.
While the networking and marketing benefits of social media are obvious, social media is a two-way forum. What happens when disgruntled customers or former employees take to social media to criticize – or even attack – your brand?
Most negative social media posts about a business are simply expressed dissatisfaction with a service or product which can be usually remedied with a quick and meaningful response and attentive customer service. However, sometimes businesses face a social media onslaught that threatens to go viral and spread to traditional media.
While this can be traumatic for business owners, there are ways to minimize damage and protect your brand.
- Don’t ignore, don’t defend. A statement of your businesses mission, values and concern – and call to action when appropriate — demonstrates care and attention to the matter. But don’t engage in back and forth over social media with an angry poster.
- Own your own social media sites. The point of social media is to have an open forum, so it is not advisable to take down every critical post. However, in those cases of extreme, threatening or profane posting, it is your right to block people and take down postings. Remember you own your own website and social media channels.
- You don’t own other outlets. If the angry poster is posting on his or her own channels or public channels blocking or taking down posts is not within your control, even — except in rare cases — with legal help. If this has gone viral or even spread to traditional media, engaging a public relations specialist to weather the storm and protect your brand is advised.
- Assess the criticism. Is there some validity for the angry posts? Starbucks turned a negative social media storm about a manager’s racial insensitivity into a positive story for the company by owning up to “not doing enough” to train managers in diversity. Taking responsibility and following through on remedies when there is a legitimate claim will ultimately be good for business in the long run.
- Remember the positive. While not advisable to post super-happy non-related posts in the midst of a negative onslaught (it will appear the business is deaf and uncaring), after the hype dies down, post positive items such as welcoming applicants, reiterating your mission, and charitable funding or events. Encourage your satisfied customers and happy employees to post positive reviews.
While a social media storm is alarming, it is important to remember to be responsive, responsible and keep in mind that social media has a short attention span. With proper handling, most negative social media incidents will die out.
For more information about how Marx Layne can manage your social media, click here.