To make fun of Apple’s infamous #bendgate, LG France tweeted from its French account that ‘Our Smart phones don’t bend, they are naturally curved ;).’
However, the only blunder that happened: The very tweet was made via an iPhone!
Well, to err is human but if it happens on any of the Social Media platform then it is surely a disaster. Social media is considered as a double edged blade for businesses. Twitter and Facebook does provide an effective way to connect with community on a quite personal level, yet, in case anything goes wrong or the company commits a social gaffe, then that blunder is immortalized – online.
And the only threat which keeps all the social media marketers on their toes is the ubiquitous PR disaster threat. Every marketer is quite aware of how swiftly an unhappy client can twirl towards the social media to express his/her feelings concerning a brand. Many leading brands have experienced the power of uncontrolled social media as a perfect dais for all annoyed customers to unleash a devastating anti-brand campaign.
Now apparently you cannot control completely whatever your clients utter about your particular brand upon the social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, forums as well as blogs. This is because the prime target of any social media is to invite maximum opinions and views regarding your services and product and to build up a reliable fan base to extend the word to their family and friends about the brand.
Nevertheless, there are numerous strategies one can consider to effectively evade or nullify a negative PR tornado effect posed against your very brand.
The article talks about how to avoid as well as overcome a social media catastrophe and how to quickly strategize solutions to handle problems in case these arise:
1) Perfect Social media Community/Policy Mgmt Strategy:
Each brand should possess a clear and comprehensive community/policy management plan such as:
• Prohibiting intolerable conversations:
Conversations which include abusive & foul language, vile speech, threats and foul comments regarding services or products should be stringently forbidden. Just ensure that this strategy is linked to the ‘Terms of Service’ for every active channel of yours such as Face book, YouTube or Twitter as all these have their own set of rules for intolerable content.
• Hiring a Community Administrator:
Hire an able community administrator who can keep a strict eye on your whole social media activities on the web. He/she should act as an efficient bridge between your PR as well as your marketing depts., and should possess clear access rights to the client support team in case if any untoward thing occurs. Apart from managing and monitoring your communities in Twitter, Face book, corporate forums and blogs, your community Administrator should also employ effective social media tools to search out where your particular brand is being talked about online.
• Effective correlation with the PR Teams and the key executive:
The community administrator would approve who would answer to which sort of comments. Top executive who is both accountable as well as knowledgeable to your client base should handle top level ‘Red Alerts’. Of course, your PR Team must be vital in crafting all your outbound communiqués; however, in swift-response circumstances it’s paramount to hire a key executive to tackle the worst case scenario.
2) Device an Escalation strategy:
Device an Escalation strategy for your company in case if some serious outbreak happens. Consider these steps:
• Sort out which comments need instant response for e.g. a huge grudge against your brand, a client service tirade or any vicious rumor and which comments could be left for some time for e.g. a small number of negative reviews, unhealthy brand comparisons.
• Appoint a person who would ‘flag’ nasty comments and plan for how they would communicate these ‘flags’ to you PR dept in order of ‘Wait’, ‘Urgent’ or ‘Monitor’.
• Ensure proper corporate steps and guidelines to tackle the abrupt tsunami of negative opinions. For e.g.
- The 1st step could be: ‘Flag’ as well as ‘Collection’ of negative opinions.
- The 2nd step could be: The Community Administrator in association with CEO and PR should craft an instant response.
- The 3rd step could be: Make your CEO as well as PR team craft and revert official replies.
3) Plan out for the Worst – Expecting the Best:
Just Visualize – What’s the worst your brand can adhere to in the face of a social media meltdown? By visualizing for the worst, you’d be able to craft out the correct responses in advance. This way you’d be prepared quite ahead, way before customers suddenly start an online negative campaign against your brand which spreads like a chain reaction in a matter of a few hours.
4) Quick, Personal as well as Direct response:
In case of worst case scenario, confer with your community management plan and decide who will respond foremost. Recognize queries, negative opinions and then implement the official responses as planned during the escalation plan phase.
And after deliver your official response, be in touch with your unhappy clients and refer them your current blog post. Always remember to respond directly and in person as such responses creates a better and long lasting impression. Honesty and speed is valued by customers – the most.
5) Avoid playing Blame Games:
Now most consumers feel that brands always pass on the buck and never own up their responsibilities. Be brave to declare that – ‘the buck stops right here’. Clients typically seek accuracy, accountability and direct feedback from the brands which they rely. Own as well as stand-up for your faults. Create a belief that you’re on to rectify the problem.
To sum up – In the current customer-driven market, your finest line-of-defense is to build up a broad social media PR policy & a strong community management strategy way in advance – Prior to any possible PR Catastrophes.