A company’s presence on social media includes a regular content creation and posting, as well as a daily communication with the users, that is, an active engagement with the fans and the online community.
However, you cannot expect the users to always be pleasant and polite, or that their comments and reviews on social media will be always positive. At some point, an unexpected and unwanted situation will happen regarding your business – a customer may not be satisfied with the product delivered or may have some objection about the quality of the service provided, and may criticize your general business practices or even certain content posted on social media.
With everything being visible and interactive in the online environment, many other users will soon be involved in the conversation, just like an avalanche, and they will surely express a certain criticism, a remark or a negative comment. In translation: you have a communication crisis on social media. Take a deep breath and do not despair, because we will give you some tips on how to handle situations like these.
Prepare in advance
Social media crisis can occur at any time. It has no working hours or holidays, it is not interested in holidays, weekends or vacation. Depending on the type of your business activity, a crisis can have different causes and forms. “Hate” on social media can be provoked by dissatisfied guests in a restaurant, web shop users who have received the wrong items, or the products have not been delivered to them at all, disagreements between customers and your employees, and the like.
Therefore, a good preparation is a necessity. More precisely, it is important to anticipate what could cause the crisis, to identify the key steps for handling the crisis once it happens and to prepare in advance a tentative “template”, that is, a list of users’ possible negative comments and your appropriate responses. It is also important that your colleagues are familiar with the crisis communication plan to facilitate coordination between you when it does occur.
Speed is a virtue
When a negative comment or criticism is written by a user in an online environment, you should respond as soon as possible. In such cases there is no room for the philosophy of “I’ll do it tomorrow”. If you procrastinate with replying, you only run the risk of a crisis occurring, and the greater the flame, the more difficult it is to extinguish it. If a dissatisfied person does not receive a feedback from you shortly, he or she will very likely continue with their resentment (often through other online channels), and will soon be joined by other users who will have “something to say”. Keep in mind that your community expects you to always be present and available, both in times of crisis and in “peacetime”.
Be open and honest
In the event of a crisis, apart from ignoring the whole situation, one of the worst things you can do is to tell your users that they are not telling the truth, and to try to cover up the problem. If you are hiding or distorting the truth, your fans will quickly “sense” that, things will get even more complicated and a bad reputation about you will spread both online and offline. So apologize to the users for an unpleasant situation, explain to them transparently why something happened and thank them for their patience and understanding. If possible, offer dissatisfied customers a discount, a free product, or some other form of compensation that they will appreciate.
There is no room for fighting
During a social media crisis, calm down and always be extremely determined, steady and polite when communicating with your fans. Never, never, engage in fights, quarrels, arguments or disputes with your users, because you can actually create a completely new crisis that you will not be able to solve so easily. Because of your recklessness you will surely lose a part of the users forever, but there is also a good chance that you will end up as a negative story in the specialized media. You certainly do not need that kind of publicity.
Of course, not all users will always be happy with your answers and reactions, but you should not take it personally, it is important to always act in accordance with the guidelines above. And once you have experienced and successfully resolved your first social media crisis, you will probably be able to overcome the next one a bit easier.