We've all seen it: bad press hits the Internet, and a company's Facebook page fills up with bad reviews and negative comments. It's every business's worst nightmare.
Whether your bad press is relatively contained or it goes viral (God forbid), you may find yourself wondering whether hashing it out on social media is really a good idea. While this can backfire if handled correctly, platforms like Facebook and Twitter may actually provide you with an opportunity to settle the discussion once and for all.
Here are four tips for using social media as effective damage control.
The worst thing you can do is remain silent. Not only will your customers (and prospective customers) feel that you're sweeping their concerns under the rug, but you won't have the opportunity to give your side of the story. Write up a thoughtful response to what happen, and include as many factual details as you can. If it fits in your budget, work with a PR firm to create an effective response to any negative reaction from the public. (See these tips for effectively writing for social media.)
Take Blame when Applicable
If you, your company, or one of your employees did something wrong, own up to it. A sincere apology can go a long way, especially if you've taken steps to correct the problem and make it right with anyone who was affected. Don’t make excuses or try to pass the buck. This can often compound the problem and increase the severity of the backlash.
When choosing how to respond, you should also take the seriousness of the problem into consideration. Is it the sort of situation that demands the termination of an employee? Are there any other ways you can set this right with your customers? If you are at fault, a genuine attempt to make things right can go a long way.
In some instances, the public’s negative reaction may be a result of the way you do business. You may look into using tools and software that make your business more efficient and more pleasant for customers to interact with. For instance, if you operate a call center, using a resource like CallTools can help your reach the right customer with the right message, reducing the risk of unsatisfied customers. If you choose to implement these tools, let your customers know that you’re actively working to solve their complaints and improve the quality of service your company is providing.
Don't Silence Your Customers
Whatever you do, don't ignore or silence your customers. Many companies may be tempted to turn off the reviewing feature or posting capabilities of their followers, but this can exacerbate the issue. Instead, respond to posts and reviews on your company's profile and allow the public to express their thoughts and feelings. Unless someone is inappropriate or offensive, you should never delete negative but sincere feedback.
You will likely have customers who continue to support you through this transition phase. Warmly respond to kindness on your social media profiles, and be sure to include a sentiment of gratitude in your official statement. Even disgruntled customers should be thanked for their patience and understanding as you work through the issue. By adding a note of positivity, your attitude will likely impact the way the public feels about you and your company.
Social media provides you with a direct connection to your customers. In times of trouble, use it. If you respond to bad press appropriately, Facebook and Twitter can be a highly effective avenue of damage control. When used in tandem with SEO, social media is an invaluable tool for boosting your online reputation.