We’ve all crossed our fingers it would never happen. We’ve watched others battle through it, secretly relieved it wasn’t us and hoping it never would be. You’ve always been so careful, never thinking it could ever happen to your company. But then it hits: a social media crisis. You make a costly mistake on Google+, tweet something you shouldn’t have, or post a brutal typo on Facebook. Customers have the power to react to your mistake instantaneously, and people tend to be harsher than ever when behind a keyboard. Things escalate quickly and soon you’ve got a social media crisis on your hands. So, what do you do?
Just because you think a social media crisis has occurred doesn’t necessarily mean you have you react immediately. If you’re experiencing a true social media crisis, it’s crucial that you get all of the leaders in your company together to discuss an action plan. Don’t waste your first response on a hasty, ill-written apology tweet. Customers don’t want an obligatory apology, they require a genuine one. Take the time to think about how you want to respond so that your first response is up to the standards of angry customers. Most importantly, make sure your entire team has a deep and clear understanding of what actually happened and are fully prepared to answer questions about the situation. It is crucial that every single person involved is on the same page and is dedicated to responding in a genuine, yet uniform manner.
The public knows that everyone makes mistakes, even their favorite brands. Now is the time to stop, think, and take responsibility for your actions. This starts by taking responsible steps to show your company is concerned about the situation. Stop any automated posting until the issue is resolved. Respond to accusations and complaints individually and diversely – never copy and paste messaging. Read each and every message directed toward your company, no matter how painful it may be. Show that your brand is taking the issue seriously and that your motive for apologizing isn’t just because your reputation is in jeopardy, but because you’re legitimately sorry that it happened.
When you’ve taken the time to process and decide your plan for navigating the social media crisis, respond clearly and genuinely. Be transparent. Be honest. And most importantly, be true to your brand. Don’t approach the situation defensively, but admit that a mistake has been made and that you’re both genuinely sorry that it happened and incredibly dedicated to making it right. By taking your time to respond and choosing to respond in the most responsible and dignified manner, customers will see that your company values integrity and that you’ll be dignified even amidst struggles. If your company can handle a social media crisis well, customers will slowly begin to trust you again, remembering that you stood out from the competition even in the worst of times. Photo credit