In today’s digital world, companies large and small are judged on how they communicate with customers via social media. One nasty tweet from a business owner can easily go viral and bury a company. And a string of helpful, customer-centric Facebook posts can dramatically increase feelings of goodwill among a client base.
The magnifying glass is never clearer than when a company is in crisis. It is during those times when customers really watch to see how a firm responds to a scandal, the recall of a defective product or a bad review.
It is during those times that business owners need to be most careful.
Negative Social Media Crisis Communications
Don’t React Emotionally
It is normal to feel strong emotions when on the receiving end of an attack. Especially if your business is the culmination of your life’s work.
Whatever you do, try not to react with negative emotions. Doing so will always backfire.
A Case in Point
In May, Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, owners of Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona, were featured on Gordon Ramsay’s reality TV show, Kitchen Nightmares. In the show, Ramsey (pictured above) was so upset with the state of the restaurant that he walked out, igniting a flurry of commentary on Twitter, most of it negative and aimed at Amy’s Baking Company.
The Bouzaglos lashed out on social media, peppering their company’s Facebook and Twitter pages with explicatives aimed at customers and even threats of legal action against anyone who wrote negative comments. The emotional reaction on the part of the business owners only added fuel to the already burning fire of negative viral comments and did nothing to help the couple’s business.
So what should you do if you are getting attacked and feel your blood start to boil?
Step away from your computer and take a minute to cool off. Talk to a colleague or impartial confidant. Only when you feel calm should you respond.
Just a few days after the social media blowup involving Amy’s Baking Company, the owners claimed that a hacker had taken over their accounts, thereby backing away from any responsibility.
Regardless if this is true or not, it is never a good idea to lie about anything. Even little lies can turn into major problems.
For example, telling a customer over Twitter that they will receive a call in 10 minutes and failing to call them for two hours is a lie. Tweeting that you have everything under control when you don’t is also a lie.
Keep things honest. Own up to your mistakes and be transparent. This is how you will come out on top during a crisis.
Don’t Continue Auto Selling
Do you schedule promotional tweets in advance?
If so, shut these down the second you experience a crisis. The last thing your customers want to see on your Twitter feed is an tweet promoting your latest product when that exact product just malfunctioned and everyone is complaining about it on Twitter.
Don’t Tweet Too Much
It is important to respond to customer comments in real time during a crisis, but don’t go overboard. Limit your communication to a few tweets and then tell the person that you’d like to take the conversation off-line with a direct message, an email or a phone call.
This will allow other customers to comment and prevent a feed clog.
Don’t Delete Tweets/Posts
The best way to handle negative comments on Twitter and Facebook is to face them head on. It can be tempting to go into your account and delete unfavorable comments just to make your company look better, but remember that everyone is watching. It’s best to respond with kindness than to sweep anything under the rug.
What negative social media crisis communications would you add that you’ve seen take place?
Angry Photo via Shutterstock
Image: Kitchen Nightmares