Congratulations, your business is now on social media! You’ve planted your company flag on this rather foreign territory. Now that’s one small step for you and a giant leap for — wait a minute, what’s this about a social media PR crisis?
Yes, the immediate, real-time nature of social media means that you can no longer play ostrich when trouble comes knocking. Coupled with virality, the last thing your business needs is a spot in the Top 10 Fails on Social Media on Buzzfeed. There’s just no looking the other way now that you’re in. Sounds intimidating? You bet. Here we’ll be sharing some nuggets of wisdom. You can thank us later.
Hmm… Does that seem too phallic?
Chances are if you’ve ever had to take a second look at your content, there probably is a good reason. Could your picture suggest supremacism? Is it culturally sensitive? Does your kettle look like Hitler? Brainstorm as many potentially problematic scenarios as possible because as cliché as it may be, prevention is always better than cure. If you can anticipate what could be coming around the corner, you’ll be one step ahead in dealing with it.
Let’s just wait for this to blow over.
And hope that they will still like us? Nope. Most PR crisis call for an immediate review and action to be taken quickly. It helps a lot to allow your social media manager access to your customers’ information and authority to make certain decisions. This will eliminate unnecessary email exchanges that go on forever. Even if you are in the midst of an investigation and have no further useful information to provide, let your customers know. Every minute you wait could risk the matter being blown out of proportions.
Excuse me, am I talking to a robot?
People don’t feel invested in you for the same reason they don’t talk to the ATM. One of the most beautiful thing about social media is that your business gets an opportunity to be a person. If your community manager has a winning personality (like this champ here), it may be fitting to lend his/her persona to the brand. Standard corporate replies can be met with extreme frustration, especially during a PR crisis, so use it sparingly.
I think we royally messed up…
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most of us underestimate the power of a sincere honest apology. It’s okay to err and the responsible thing to do is to admit it. If your brand has offended a certain group of people, make it right by them. Donate to their cause, render free services for them, or even dedicate your company’s CSR to benefit them. Forget your next expensive awareness campaign, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to change perceptions now that all eyes are on you. Who knows, you might even win new supporters. It’s never too late.
Still daunted? Don’t be. As you spend more time on social media creating and publishing content, participating in conversations, and listening to your fans, you should be able to get an idea of how best to deal with a PR crisis. Need advice? Drop us a note and we’ll be happy to oblige.