Once something is posted online, there’s no telling how far it will reach. Too often, videos, photos and comments that aren’t positive get the most viral traction. Just look at the current Applebee’s social media situation. While there’s nothing PR professionals can do to prevent these posts from guests, customers, and rogue employees, there’s quite a bit we can do to minimize the situation and keep it from turning into a full blown social media crisis. Here are just a few tips to help manage a viral nightmare.
- Be Quick: Once a viral hit gets going, it’s hard to stop the momentum. Make sure to be on the front end and manage comments as soon as possible to help soften the blow and slow down the negative backlash. Of course, more important than responding quickly is to have the facts and a well-crafted, genuine (see below) statement. Subway responded fairly quickly to their footlong crisis, but the response was not ideal. You don’t want to back pedal on your original statement – be quick, but get it right the first time.
- Be Authentic: Be sincere and honest in your response. Share the facts in the situation and speak up with your solution or strategy to handle on the issue, if applicable. Also, don’t just copy and paste your statement over and over again as a response to people. Yes, it’s easy, but it comes off as insincere.
- Be Strategic: If the viral hit was posted to YouTube, make sure your response is on YouTube. If it’s on Facebook, post to Facebook. Domino’s response is a great example how to use an online medium to respond to a crisis situation. And when you do respond, make sure you post it somewhere people can easily find, and view, it. Thanks to Facebook’s updates over the past year, we can now flag a status update as important and have it pinned to the top of your wall.
- Be Kind: Social media is not a platform to strike up a fight or confrontation with a customer. The last thing you want to do is start arguing with each commenter, regardless of their post and what the truth may be. It’s important to be above the negativity and stay away from targeting specific comments.
What other tips do you recommend for dealing with a social media crisis?