Social media is a powerful marketing tool and a great way to communicate directly with your clients, but unfortunately it can sometimes lead to a crisis regarding your professional reputation. You need to ready to respond if a social media firestorm is threatening your business. Use the following ideas to protect your online reputation and your firm’s brand image.
Check Accounts Often
Monitor your social media accounts often. If you forget to look at your account for a week or two, during which time a disgruntled client post a bad review of your services, the negative comments may be seen by hundreds of people before you’re even aware of them. To quickly minimize potential damage, it’s important to check your accounts on a frequent regular basis.
Consider getting alerts sent to your phone so that you can see posts and comments in real time. As your business gets bigger, you may want to hire a social media manager to help with this aspect of your digital marketing.
Respond to Complaints
When someone posts a negative comment or review, don’t ignore it. Make sure you respond to the post in a polite and honest manner. Don’t lie to cover up mistakes and don’t make excuses. Instead, own the issue, apologize, and offer a resolution. Dealing with complaints or negative reviews in a straightforward, professional manner can help to impress existing and potential clients, giving you the opportunity to turn a negative into a positive for your business.
If the issue relates to one of your employees, you may want to explain the steps you took to resolve the issue. For example, if you fired the employee or had them go through retraining, you may want to publicize that fact. Similarly, if your company experiences a data breach, you may want to explain how your firm is resolving the issue, and go a step further by offering affected clients identity theft protection services.
Use Disclaimers as Needed
In addition to protecting your reputation, you also need to protect yourself. Imagine you share a blog post about an accounting technique on a social media site. Then one of your followers asks a question about using the technique. When you answer the question, you may want to put in a disclaimer that says the advice is not legal advice. That way, if the individual attempts to use the technique and ends up getting into trouble, you’re legally protected from possible repercussions.
When dealing with clients directly, you usually have all the information you need to give them proper advice on tax laws, and can ask them questions and advise them thoroughly. That ideal situation doesn’t exist when you’re responding with limited information, in the limited space of a “comments” section of a social media platform.
Learn From Others
To get a good sense of how to handle social media issues, you may want to look at how other businesses and professionals handle their social media presence. For example, the financial services company, ING, faced a social media firestorm in 2013, but in the end handled the issue perfectly. The online community was upset with ING for running a TV commercial that was interpreted as making fun of people suffering from mental illnesses. When ING first started seeing comments, they stated that was not their intention, and apologized, yet online anger continued to grow. At that point, ING did something very valuable – the company listened to its detractors and their criticism. The marketing team re-watched the commercial with a new perspective. ING then sent out social media messages that effectively stated, “We’re listening. We care about your concerns, and we’re going to take action in response to them.” Ultimately, ING pulled the ads in question off the air. The company’s active response to complaints from the public effectively communicated its willingness to listen and its genuine concern. Successfully communicating that type of message can actually improve your company’s brand image significantly.
Prepare in Advance for Dealing with Issues
Think ahead and prepare in advance for dealing with potential issues. Run through various scenarios and think about how best to deal with them. For instance, if someone posts something negative on your company’s Facebook page, you may just want to delete the comment and block them from your account. On the other hand, you may want to take the steps mentioned above – apologize and resolve the issue. Have text responses ready and waiting to reply to issues that may be likely to arise.
Drown Them in Positivity
If someone searches for your business and the only posts they find are negative reviews or complaints on social media, that doesn’t make your firm look good. On the other hand, if you post a lot on social media, those same negative comments become just a small part of an overall positive picture of your firm. To increase positive posts about you or your company online, you can ask satisfied customers to share positive reviews. Sharing helpful tips on social media can also positively enhance your public profile.
Get Outside Help as Needed
Managing your social media presence isn’t always easy As your business gets bigger and attracts more online followers, it becomes increasingly challenging. If you are worried about legal issues, contact an attorney and have them check over your posts and offer advice.
If you are having trouble with content tone or ideas, you may want to consult with a social media strategist or a public relations expert. They can give you guidance on managing your online presence, or even take over that job for you. If you opt for the latter course of action, still monitor the account so that you’re aware of what’s being posted on your behalf.
Dealing with negative social media posts can be hard, but with the right approach, youkan survive whatever comes your way. Monitor social media accounts regularly, respond to criticism promptly, and take an overall positive approach to posting online.