Social Media Backlash? Take These 5 Steps
By Ronn Torossian, Contributor
In an ideal world, a company would never have a PR or social media crisis. This means that a company would never need to face the backlash of a crisis on social media. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world, and so everyone must be prepared for a negative reaction from the online masses.
We’ve all seen it. A business makes a decision, and, as soon as that decision is made, the public and customers are outraged. An outpouring of negative comments and tweets follow, and in the span of a few hours, there’s an entire viral story about the decision and subsequent outrage.
No matter how well any company is prepared for such a situation, there are always a few key steps to take to handle all of the negativity that might pop up on all of the company’s social media feeds.
In a Social Media Crisis, Stay Calm, But Be Quick
When a crisis happens, there’s no room for panic. Panic only leads to bad decisions. Taking a few calming deep breaths to mentally prepare before facing the world is important, but so is avoiding any delays. Waiting around for the issue to solve itself is often likely to make it grow even bigger.
Don’t Ignore It
If people keep commenting on something that the company has done, it’s important to make sure that the topic is acknowledged. This makes the audience feel heard, which, is likely to make people feel recognized and not ignored.
Consider where the blame should be directed. No matter who deserves the blame, make sure that the responsible party or parties own up to the mistake and acknowledge what’s been learned because of it. Discuss what safeguards will be instituted to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
It’s very rarely helpful to attack the people who are posting negative comments. There’s no need to threaten or blame them for the situation. Instead, acknowledge emotions in a polite and calm manner. If the situation begins to get out of hand, if the commenters become abusive, there’s always the option to delete and/or block their messages.
Repairing the Damage
Once the social media crisis has settled down, it’s time to start thinking of ways to repair the public image, without backpedaling on the issue. This is not the time to take shortcuts. Review everything that happened and assess all the actions that should be taken. Taking on the perspective of the audience is a great way to find even more ways to improve the situation. There’s no reason why one mishap should be the end of a business.
The repercussions of any mishaps are likely to be greatly reduced when people feel heard and acknowledged.