Have you ever read news about a brand getting caught in a scandal because of a post they made on their social media pages? Thanks to social media, it is easier to make almost any content viral nowadays, regardless of whether the information is accurate.
It doesn’t help that most end-users at present reach out for their phones the moment they wake up. They check their messages, and they also open all the social platforms they are in to get updates on the latest news or trends. Since 2015, the number of users on social networking sites continued to increase, that it has now reached a staggering 3.9 billion.
Picture that number and imagine your business getting the flak for a single post.
Please take a moment to visualize how effortless it can be for trolls, competitors and unsatisfied customers to taint your pages with inappropriate images, create fake reviews, or share their unfavorable experience with your business for the world to see.
Did you envision a nightmare?
Well, that is a concrete manifestation of how powerful social media has become. You can never be too passive once you establish a digital presence on the internet. It would be best if you thought promptly about how to handle a social media crisis.
Do you have efficient and reliable content moderation services to protect you against deceitful information and scandals? Are you knowledgeable enough to traverse and handle disputes involving the online community?
What options or steps can you take to equip your business against negative end-user activity and content?
What is a Social Media Crisis?
Basically, a crisis on social media is anything that could potentially harm the reputation you worked so hard to build and solidify. Some unfortunate businesses suffered massive losses in ROI with a single tweet. Others lost thousands of followers overnight for being associated with controversial organizations, events, and user claims.
Why do such events take place on social networking platforms?
One of the biggest reasons is the accessibility of these websites. Since social platforms are free to use, it also means even ill-willing groups can dominate the internet. Anybody can sign up on Facebook or Twitter or take on a new persona through Instagram. Several photo editing and web designing tools make it easier to imitate a business or disguise it as a legitimate publishing company.
Another explanation behind why business-related issues arise on these websites is that it is easier to voice out complaints or tarnish a company’s credibility using already widely used apps. Previously, one would have to print stacks of print media to spread awareness or spark publicity. These days, all you need is a mobile device or a computer, writing skills, and knowledge in operating photo or video editing apps. You can even download free website builder software and create as many websites as you want.
What was initially a tool for reaching out to family and friends now has significant influence over the economy and the trajectory of most industries and marketing strategies. Without a considerable amount of caution and carefully planned social media crisis management, it will be more difficult to recover from unforeseen catastrophes that may involve your business or online branding.
How can you prevent or protect your business image from a premeditated crisis or an unexpected customer outrage on social platforms?
1. Be accountable
It’s not always easy to be the bigger person in any argument or dispute. Given that you have more to lose and protect, accountability and professionalism should be enough to anchor you down.
Giving the pressure instantly discredits your image. The sad truth is that people will immediately remember you for one mistake despite the number of positive contributions you have made before taking that single misstep.
Although some businesses manage to recover from the online community’s savagery, it is not always a guarantee. This is where your social media crisis communication fits in your marketing plan.
When people see you taking responsibility for the crises, they would naturally gravitate towards you since you can handle and respond to issues professionally. The audience sees you as reliable and trustworthy, thus inciting the admiration that converts leads into loyal customers.
2. Monitor and scrutinize
People always say that prevention is better than cure. Indeed, it will always be better to avert the disaster that happens to your brand. Keep tabs on potential red flags and inappropriate activities of your followers on your page.
Lend a listening ear to what your genuine supporters and customers have to say. Combine different moderation types so that you continuously check the content in every user post, promote positive interactions, and stay in-tune with specific issues or circumstances that affect their experience with your brand.
An experienced content moderation team provides efficient social media crisis communication and emergency management because they act as a mediator between you and your audience while also regulating activities between online community members.
3. Prepare backup plans
Yes, you need to plan in plural form. Have a backup strategy for your backup strategy. It’s redundant, but it is also a smart move. It means you have foresight over potential risks, outcomes, and consequences that may arise as you implement your main objectives and tactics.
Social media is a double-edged sword. Most of the time, it is a tool that unlocks boundless opportunities. Sadly, it also leads your company to fail when you let your guard down or become too complacent with what content goes around about your products and services.
Creating alternative routes for your digital marketing efforts will also shield your customers in the long run. For example, releasing a disclaimer over a bad product review may not be enough to ensure your name is off-the-hook.
You need to ensure that all parameters are cleared and that you already have responses and action plans prepared if the person who posted the review decides to retaliate. Send a message to the individual who shared the review and try to resolve the issue privately.
Often, it also boils down to how quickly you address the issue. It takes seconds to be the talk of the entire internet. If you have multiple social pages, this means you need more moderators and social media staff on standby who will monitor and track all posts related to your brand.
4. Pause scheduled posts
Say you are in the midst of resolving a crisis online. Hitting the pause button on your promotional posts or advertisements will contribute greatly to salvaging your reputation. Use a different channel for now to leverage your sales.
Choosing to carry on with your scheduled marketing content while dealing with an issue will make you seem insensitive and unprofessional. It’s like offering discounts to your customers or making sales calls while your office is on fire.
Control and clear the fire first. Make sure everything is regulated and back to normal before resuming your usual social media posting. Doing so also lessens the stress levels of your social media team. More importantly, you reduce the possibility of igniting more problems.
5. Formulate protocols and guidelines
Set a clear-cut method for responding to customers and addressing simple to complex concerns. Each social networking site has its own set of rules that every member should follow. Align your messaging templates, digital communities, and moderation techniques with these guidelines. Set the tone for your brand and train your staff to apply it consistently throughout every end-user interaction and crisis they are tasked to solve. Give them instructions on how to deal with insults and trolls in a calm and civilized manner.
It would be helpful if you provide counseling or additional coaching if the issue escalates and becomes too intense. Limit the number of people in your company who have access to your social media accounts to ensure only trusted individuals get to interact with your audience and manage what you post online.
Being the target of internet trolls or the subject of a red-hot catastrophe is never easy. It is not enough to wing it and call it a day. Even more so, it is impractical and unwise to delete your pages and hope people would forget the issue eventually. What if they end up forgetting your brand altogether?
It is alright to be taken aback by online scandals, especially if it involves your credibility and your end-users trust. However, it would help if you didn’t allow these issues to take charge.
Speaking of taking charge, you can always make things a lot easier by outsourcing additional support for your business operations and protecting your reputation. The New Media Services team has content moderation services lined up to assist your digital branding and secure your followers’ safety. We effectively moderate texts, images, videos, websites, and social media pages through a combination of human moderators and AI-powered spam and profanity filters.