Social media is a giant megaphone. On a good day, it can broadcast the positive messages, but on a bad day, it can turn whispers of discontent into yells that millions can hear. While nobody plans on causing social media outrage, what matters is how well you manage the fallout. So, if you find yourself in this scenario, don’t panic. The good news is that you can bounce back and, if done properly, you might even turn it into an opportunity.
Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind if you’re ever facing a social media meltdown.
- ‘Fess up. Own your mistake, and don’t let the situation get away from you. Mistakes happen, so be the bigger person by acknowledging the situation, admitting your fault and apologising genuinely. The sooner you act, the sooner you can take ownership of the problem and extinguish the situation.
- Find the funny side. Depending on the image your business presents, and the severity of the online crime committed, you may be able to inject some humour into your damage control. While it’s best to display appropriate seriousness on subjects involving religion, politics, human rights and other sensitive topics, a light-hearted approach could be taken in the event of minor errors.
- Be polite. Interacting with others on social media calls for an informal tone, not a corporate one. When responding to comments, be personal, yet professional. Responding in a dismissive or impolite manner will only add fuel to the fire.
- Listen and learn. What’s been done is done, but you can still turn a meltdown into an opportunity by listening to and trying to understand the commenter. Respond directly to the person to acknowledge the concern, and then take it offline or move to a private message where they can better explain their opinion and you can explain yours. This shows that you’re willing to make amends.
- Pretend it never happened. The most common mistake businesses make is to ignore the incident altogether. While it’s tempting to wait it out until people find another scandal to talk about, not acknowledging the situation only makes them stick around longer to see what happens next. Your audience deserves an explanation. Don’t remove negative comments and block users. That will make people come back with a vengeance.
- Say you’ve been hacked. People can tell if your social media page has been hacked, or if you’re just using the virtual equivalent of the “dog ate my homework” excuse. Don’t make the situation worse by manipulating and lying to your followers.
- Reach without thinking. Take your time to come up with a thoughtful response that combines sincere apology with accountability. But don’t wait too long - social media disasters should be addressed as soon as possible.
- Be too defensive. This makes you look like you’re letting the situation control you, and makes you seem resistant to constructive criticism. This will further fuel the trolls, trying to bait you into arguments you’ll regret later. Don’t fall into that trap.
A social media blunder in itself is not the end of the world, but things can either get better or worse depending on how you react to the situation. Hopefully, the tips shared here will bring your business to the road of PR recovery, and not to the point of no return.