Many brands are afraid of getting on social media because of negative comments and backlash from fans when they face challenges. While big companies like Gap and the NRA can more easily bounce back after a social disaster, it could put a smaller company out of business, or at the very least have an impact on revenue and tarnish the brand for years to come.
The question then is: “ what do you do when your business is thrust into the spotlight for negative reasons online?”
Here are a few tips to help your brand:
- Acknowledge the blunder immediately
The best thing you can do when something happens, whether it’s a typo or an offensive Tweet, is to acknowledge it as soon as possible. The second you mess up, the clock starts ticking. People will watch your account waiting for a response; tech writers will draft and publish their posts while waiting for your response; offended people will call you out, share the blunder and unfollow while awaiting a response.
- Never Dwell on Mistakes
Don’t dwell on the mistake, if an unsatisfied customer complains on your page or you accidentally post the wrong or inappropriate message on your page that seems a bit offensive to your fans; immediately apologize openly if it needs an apology or send the customer a DM apologizing, explaining and proffering a possible solution.
- Look at it as an Opportunity
You can build better customer relationships by solving problems. Want to turn an angry customer into a dedicated one? Fix their problem! A negative experience can spread through social circles pretty quickly. But one that becomes positive? That travels well too. Pro-tip: act like a human being, it makes the customer feel like they’re talking to an actual person not an organization.
- Have a sense of Humor
Responding to a small social media fail with quick wit is one of the easiest ways to deal with small social media fails.
For instance, take Inc. magazine’s Facebook page, which left out the word “billion” in this recent post and check out their response:
- Use Influential Community Members
If you’re active on social media, chances are that you have influential community members or brand advocates that you regularly interact with. When something negative happens, don’t be afraid to reach out to them in a more personal and sincere way.
If someone regularly advocates for your brand, they may want to address the issue with their own followers. Let them in on some of the details and let them help you spread the right information.
- Be Honest
Rather than try to argue to your audience that the mistake wasn’t so bad or that you’re actually in the right, the best course is often humility. “It’s coming clean and ponying up to anything you might be responsible for.
In late 2014, the company launched a brave Q&A campaign across its social channels, with the goal of dispelling numerous unsavory notions. Along with addressing Twitter questions head-on
The transparency campaign was selective – and at times cloudy – with the truth. But the willingness of this corporate giant to be honest with its customers was a refreshingly bold response.
- Don’t censor negative feedback use it to improve on your brand.
When Volkswagen asked its Facebook fans to share what they wanted the brand to achieve three years ago, they didn’t expect the fans to ask them to clean up their environmental records. Volkswagen allegedly deleted many of its negative feedback, which led to even greater backlash from fans.
- Apologize for real
Many brands believe that apologizing on social is something to avoid, a sincere apology positions the brand as one that genuinely cares for the feelings of its fans and customers.
Here’s an instance of Diogiorno pizza, the brand jumped on a trending hashtag without having full knowledge of what it was about.
They went ahead to apologize ad even tweeted apologies at a few aggravated fans. It paid off, as many people responded to their tweet thanking them and saying their apology was accepted.
- Fixing the Fail
Saying we’re fixing it and it won’t happen again is a great first step. It does your brand no harm to say that you’re revising your social media posting process to add a new level of approvals. Walk your followers through the changes you’re making to ensure it won’t happen again.What to do once it’s fixed
- Don’t forget it, learn from it.
People often say brands should move on from their mistakes. Social media doesn’t forget. Brand’s mistakes are often posted and reposted to ensure they are constantly available online. Don’t be upset about that be open to addressing it.
Feel free to share the experience through a blogpost or website so other brands can learn from it.