With over 3.8 billion people using social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and others in the year 2020, its impact on businesses cannot be overstated. This new-age phenomenon has become a boon for organizations as it offers direct engagement and dialogue with customers and an unprecedented opportunity to build relationships and affinity.
However, on the flip side, as organizations harness the power of social media, they often forget that it is a double-edged sword. The fact that communication on social media happens instantly in real-time, also means that it raises the stakes. It is not like issuing a press release with a typo or misinformation, and then having the opportunity of resending it. On social media, once the information is out, it can be seen and shared forever. Even if a post is deleted, there are high chances that it has been already screenshotted and shared by countless followers.
When it comes to crisis management, social media can be an essential communication tool in today’s digital world. However, if not used strategically, it can also make the crisis worse than ever. Only a well-planned and strategic approach will ensure that it works for you and not against you. A crisis can include anything from simple misinformation in a tweet to something very serious resulting in negative publicity.
Why Is Your Reputation on Social Media Important
As an organization doing business in today’s world, you need to be concerned about your image on social media. Whether you choose to participate or not, consumers will talk about you online, particularly when the news is bad. Hence, a more pragmatic approach is to be a part of the conversation and staying in control of messaging and reputation.
Here are the three main reasons as to why you should be concerned about social media’s influence on your image:
Word of mouth
Imagine you are a restaurant owner, and you recognize a customer walking into your establishment as someone who has a wide influence in your community. You would want him to have the best experience possible so if he chooses to talk about your restaurant, others should be thoroughly impressed with it. However, if he shares negative feedback about your restaurant online, it can hamper your image and reputation.
According to a study, 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family than other forms of advertising. Hence, word of mouth can make or break the reputation of an organization.
Social media allows anyone to be a major influence in the community. Any customer who walks through your door could have hundreds or even thousands of followers in your region, or if not, his friends might. Thus, social media allows consumer opinions to spread quickly across the globe.
Google’s recent implementation of social media in its search results brings real-time conversations to the front page. Twitter users are fond of hashtags, and just adding a hashtag in front of a search for a name brand can reveal the latest news and information about that brand.
Take our agency Turiya Communications for instance. Adding the hashtag in front of the name reveals the following on the first page of search results.
You can see why social search could be very influential on a searcher’s perception of a brand.
Managing a Crisis through Social Media
Social media is public; your fans and followers have the right to make negative comments. It is your job to turn those negative comments around and to change it into a positive one. To do so, let us look at some of the best practices for using social media:
Monitor your business on social media and respond to tweets, mentions, and comments on your company’s profiles promptly. If your social media team is small, consider investing in monitoring software that can help your team stay on top of negative comments, viral stories, and brand mentions.
Avoid slow and delayed response on social media as an information vacuum can lead to people’s criticisms and speculation about your company. Since social media works in real-time, the faster you respond, the better your customer service will look.
It is often said that everyone is a critic online, which can make it easy for tensions to flare. Coach your team to respond to social media followers in a way that is polite, truthful, and on point. If someone starts posting inflammatory or outright false statements, it might be time to block the user or reach out to him or her directly.
If a conversation is going against you, a rule of thumb is to take it “offline” - whether in a private message, email, or phone call, after a few attempts at civil conversation. Suggest that your customers contact you privately to send their email address or phone number for more in-depth discussion.
Twitter, you can follow your customers so that they can message you directly. On Facebook fan pages, you can share a personal profile that can be used by the customers to get in touch with you about any issue. On YouTube, customers can visit your company’s channel and send a message.
Remember that aside from private messaging, anyone can read conversations between you and your customer. Hence, it is important to provide great customer service, so that it can go a long way in impressing your customers and increase their likelihood of giving you positive referrals.
During your planning efforts, take the time to draft some key social media messages to have on hand when the next crisis hits. You can tweak the content for the specific situation when it occurs, but having at least a framework response will save time and energy when it matters most.
It can be a rather unsettling experience when your company or brand goes through a crisis. Whether it be a miscommunication or a mistake, the ultimate goal is to come out of it. At Turiya Communications LLP, our crisis management team is dedicated to helping you pull your business out of a crisis or a controversy and display you in a positive light. We work diligently to put your message before the narrative to restore confidence in your brand and get business back to "as usual."
Visit our website to know more about our crisis management services!