Has your company recently implemented its social media marketing plan? If so, who handles your social media profiles and overall online reputation? What if that person posted a tweet on Twitter and suddenly realizes the tweet was meant for his personal account instead of your company’s account? What happens to your online reputation then? And how should your business respond?
We are all familiar with a public relation (PR) disaster, and fortunately, some of us have not experienced such a disaster before, but nothing is certain, right? It may take years to build a solid online reputation and just seconds to destroy it. In this blog post, I will cover some strategies to protect your online reputation after a social media PR disaster hits your brand…
First of all, how should we define a social media PR disaster? According to Mashable writer, Zachary Sniderman, there are 5 main categories of social media PR disasters: 1) the inappropriate opinion, 2) the insensitive statement, 3) the early release, 4) the false reward and 5) the hack. Let’s break it down further:
1) The inappropriate opinion – This occurs when an opinion is posted through your social media account that is considered unsuitable to your brand or to the format.
2) The insensitive statement – This is a statement that exposes your brand’s values negatively. For example:
How does this statement make Kenneth Cole look?
3) The early release – This happens when you make an announcement too early (the timing is not right).
4) The false reward – This PR disaster can definitely destroy trust in your brand. An example would be if you tell potential customers about a prize and it turns out later that you cannot actually offer this prize.
5) The hack –This arises when a hacker breaks into your social media accounts.
Now onto the strategies to recover:
Be Upfront and Fast – Do not wait too long to respond to a mistake. Does your family and friends like dishonesty? No, and neither do possible customers or existing customers. Stay involved in the conversation online so you can be aware of how your fans and followers are reacting to your posts.
Build Your Community – Sure, it takes time to build your community of brand ambassadors, but after you have done this, you will be reassured that your community will have faith in you despite a disaster. So how can you build this community? You need to actively engage your brand supporters with questions, answers, and comments. Perhaps reward them with gift cards, too. Who does not like a special deal after being a loyal customer for many years?
Keep It Together – Clearly, social media PR disasters are not ideal, but remember, large companies have recovered from some BAD situations. When it comes to social media, you should not take a post too seriously if it came off in the wrong way. What truly matters is how you respond to your mistake. For example, I love how the American Red Cross (ARC) responded to this initial tweet:
How did the ARC respond? They tweeted:
“The Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”
As you can see, the ARC did not freak out about the original tweet; they decided to react immediately with an apology AND promote responsibility regarding drinking alcohol. The ARC took it a step further by also asking its Twitter followers to contribute to the ARC with a link and using the hashtag #gettngslizzerd. Creative, huh?
I will close with a quote from Mariah Calagione, who was the genius behind the PR disaster response mentioned above. She says, “ultimately the best advice is to be attentive to your audience and listen to your channels for both positive and negative feedback. It’s hard to tell the whole story in a post and it’s hard to talk to your entire audience in just one tweet” (Sniderman).
Like any other PR plan, do not forget to say you are sorry if you made a slip up and act quickly. People may forgive you for your mistake, but they may not forget how you acted in response. And it is much easier to apologize in the beginning rather than later when people are even more upset with you.
Has your company ever experienced a social media PR disaster? If so, how did you respond? Do you have any additional recovery strategies? Share your feedback in a comment!
About Alan Moore: Alan is an Internet Marketing Consultant with ReachLocal Baltimore. His mission is to help you increase your revenues and decrease unproductive advertising expenses through proven, online marketing strategies. He manages over $1.2 million in yearly marketing budgets and has worked with local businesses, agencies and the US government. Give him a call at (877)655-3438 to schedule a free consultation.
Want to learn more? Go to http://mashable.com/2011/08/24/pr-disaster-recovery/#14235Microsoft-Astroturfing-2001