Managing Social Media Crisis and Negative Feedback
Every now and then someone might come along and post some negative feedback among your carefully planned marketing messages and upbeat dialog with your fans. I have listed some of the best practice guidelines below. But first, what can go wrong?
Types of negative feedback
Problem is the easiest to resolve. This is more of a support issue but you have to keep it from blowing up by acknowledging the problem and fixing it quickly. Try to get the actual fixing out of social media channels. After successful resolution of the problem respond to original post in social media.
Criticism is a real feedback about what people feel is not working for them with your products and services. Criticism may explode if if ignored or dealt with inappropriately. Examine the issue and let people know that you are looking into it. One way to minimize the criticism is to set up a suggestion box to gather opinions that would otherwise be expressed more negatively.
Crisis hits when someone is really pissed off and dedicated to beat you up. It it usually a result of earlier neglect (United breaks guitars) but can be also orcestrated as a campaign to an end (Nestle’s Palm Oil PR Crisis). First make sure that there really is an issue and it’s not someone trying to create a problem out of thin air. If you really screwed up show real regret and apologize for what happened. Next let people know what are you going to do about it. Give a time line and specify actions you are going to take.
Here are some pointers on how to get through a social media crisis:
Build your true fan base to help you when crisis arises.
Monitor social media to discover potential problems as early as possible.
Don’t ignore the negative feedback as neglect will create more negative emotions. Act on complaints, answer questions, direct people to appropriate channels like support.
Censorship. Do not delete negative feedback if it’s based on real issues. This form of ignoring people will make them more angry and the problem will escalate faster. However, it will do so on channels that you don’t control.
When you encounter negative feedback engage as early as possible.
Hours not days. If you act fast you may be able to keep the situation from escalating. Act slowly and the issue might grow big enough to jump channels to mainstream media.
Don’t panic! Consider all th available facts and give a thought out and fact based response.
Plan for crisis. What can happen? How would you react? Even a rudimentary plan will help you more than no plan at all.
Response team. Who will be responsible for decisions and who will manage the social media channels during the crisis. There has to be top level management involved as regular confirmation channels might not be fast enough.
Create a fact pages that will answer the key questions about the situation and provide further information. These pages can be created in advance when planning for potential crises. I suggest that you create those pages on your domains not Facebook or other third party channels.
Don’t hide information. If there’s any chance it can come out it will.
Don’t argue. Even if all your arguments are based on facts you will not win if you do not understand the underlying emotional issues. First seek to understand the emotions.
Engage in a dialogue, personally. I believe that people who are perfectly willing to beat up brands will cool down if they talk to a real person with a name.
Show regret and apologize. Do it personally. If you let your legal department do it then you will probably make the problem worse.
Never engage in personal attacks. Although it may be the case that the person complaining does not understand the technology or problem but pointing that out wil not get you closer to resolving your crisis.
Let us know what experiences have you had with negative feedback?
Image credit Riccardo Cuppini
Posted on: September 12, 2011
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