It’s my turn to weigh in on the pros and cons of Social Media, and having worked in the field for over 2.5 years, I can confirm we haven’t even touched the surface of its potential in terms of the benefits it will bring to businesses globally. But, with great power comes great responsibility and especially, accountability from those who use it.
Over the COVID-19 pandemic, we as a society have become much more aware of the impacts that scrolling aimlessly through Social Media can have on our mental health and wellbeing. I once read some advice that struck a chord with me; stop aimlessly scrolling, and use social media with purpose. I wrote down a list of everything I use Social Media for that benefits me, and I have slowly got into a habit of being more purposeful with my personal Social Media use. However, because we are so aware of the effects of Social Media on our wellbeing, it is easy to forget that Social Media is an incredible business tool and gives businesses a lot of purpose and means to reach the people they reach. Being able to harness that appropriately and use it ethically is where damage control on Social Media comes in.
When disaster strikes Social Media gives you the most effective and efficient platform to reach the people you have affected the most. But, knowing this, we also have to recognise that how you handle your mistakes as a business on Social Media can make or break your reputation with these people too. We’ve seen large brands ignore a tweet that has later gone viral and created collateral damage that could’ve been avoided if it had been resolved sooner and more effectively. With this in mind, here are my top tips on how to control damage and manage the crisis on Social Media when you make a mistake.
Before action is taken:
Hold yourself accountable internally, not just for Social Media
Rule number one; don’t fake it for Social Media. Acknowledge the situation as a team, don’t blame anyone else, figure out the role each person has played in this mistake and hold yourself accountable. The transparency of Social Media means that if you try and hide the fact you were ‘doing it for show’, it will either be called out or found out.
Always have an internal crisis management plan ready that covers ALL possibilities for if you have to do damage control
Plan, plan, and plan. Even if as a company you pride yourselves on the customer/client services you provide and you’ve never committed a social-media crime, there will come a day when you will and you need to be prepared for any backlash and have multiple channels of damage control.
Don’t react immediately. No matter how small or large the damage is, react as a team to find the best solution.
Without a team perspective, the ways on how to handle collateral damage are narrow and may not have the desired effect, which is where a team of people’s input can broaden everyone’s ideas. Teamwork makes the dream work.
A few more things to consider when creating your plan of action –
- Put yourself in your followers/customers shoes, and base your apology on that.
- People want proactivity. Say sorry once, but don’t go on about it. Show people how what has happened will not happen again and you have a plan for this.
Actioning your damage control plan:
Send out a well-thought-out statement addressing said damage and your preventative action plan.
If you have to put a statement out, don’t rush it and factor in everything you have already discussed internally with your team! Double-check your grammar and get a few more pairs of eyes over the statement before it is sent. Apologise, but focus on your preventative action plan, and be sure to post it on every Social Media platform too to increase reach.
Don’t delete negative comments
Whatever you do, don’t delete or ‘hide’ any of the comments. This is very dismissive, and will negatively impact the relationship you have built with your consumers. Just don’t do it.
Instead respond to negative comments quickly and efficiently with consistent, well-thought-out messaging. Even if it means your Social Media department has to spend all day replying to comments, these are the people who keep your business going if you are customer-facing. Remember that!
Don’t direct negative comments to one specific platform.
It is important to have your eyes on every channel possible. People will go straight to social media nowadays to point out mistakes. You can’t avoid it. Society knows how much it can hurt a brand and will do exactly that to make you aware of the consequences. So rather than heard the backlash into a corner for your ease, just monitor it from all angles, and continue to monitor your social media channels for the entire week to stay hot on responses and damage control.
Lastly, when all is said and done, don’t dwell on what has happened. Everyone makes mistakes and you can always learn from them, and this is all your consumers want to know and see.