Managing your brand’s social presence can be a challenge for more than one reason. Not only keeping a community of followers engaged is a difficult job, but in many cases, your customers could use social media to vent and express dissatisfaction with your products or services.
The unfiltered, unmediated communication of social media is what makes it so influential and persuasive on your customers.
Unfortunately, cases of bad reviews or even bad publicity need to be accounted for as one of the risks of communicating in the social media arena.
As always, we’re always allowed to find some silver lining in a difficult situation and online reputation management is no exception.
If we take our online reputation seriously, then it may be helpful to set up a clearly structured plan, so that, in case the crisis strikes, we will know what needs to be done.
In this post, we’re going to help you create a plan to manage your online reputation, by following three simple steps.
With no further ado, let’s dive into the topic.
Step #1: Define What Constitutes a Crisis
The first step in managing your response to a social media crisis is defining what constitutes a crisis.
In other words, what you need to understand, is what is it that should prompt a customer service intervention.
The more popular and well-known your brand is, the harder will be to even keep track of all of the communications surrounding your company.
Depending on the type of company you run, the need to monitor online conversations will vary, but it’s safe to say, that online reputation can strongly impact your business performance and it’s often a good idea never to downplay any signals of a bad reputation.
For exactly this reason, a good place to start is setting up a listening program, or essentially a tracking program focused on looking at your brand mentions in real-time, as well as over a certain amount of time.
A listening program will allow you to see how your brand is being mentioned, with what connotation and in which context, so that you can be fully aware of the positive and negative attributes your brand is being associated with.
To do this, you can use some free versions of popular social listening software like Hootsuite.
The reason why setting up a social listening program is useful is because it allows you to prevent a crisis, rather than deal with one that has already burst.
Step #2 Define Who Should Act
Let’s say that a situation has arisen, and you feel that it may be helpful to intervene to address an issue. What next?
To help you understand how to best respond to a PR issue, setting up a scale of responses based on the gravity of the issue can be helpful.
You may want to develop a flowchart so that everybody on your team is able to clearly see who should get involved and when.
An example can be provided in the list below, where a 5-level scale based on the gravity of the issue is presented with an indication of who should act to counter the problem.
- Response from Customer Service
- Response from Customer Service with Management Consultation
- Response from Management with Solution Plan
- Response from Management with Solution Plan and Executive Notification
- Executive Response with Solution Plan
At the same time, we should avoid thinking that crisis management consists of a simple email or announcement.
Once you have responded to the issue, it’s important to actually spend time monitoring the impact of your intervention, to evaluate if enough has been done.
We’ll address this next point in the following section of this post.
Step #3 Set Up A Follow Up Strategy
Following up on crisis management is essential, and the reason for this is that with the right approach, a situation that started on the wrong foot can become a happy customer success story.
There is such thing as the Service Recovery Paradox which suggests that customers who have been helped to overcome an issue, tend to develop a stronger degree of loyalty to the brand.
This may sound counterintuitive, as the customers who experience issues in their relationship with the brand could have more reasons to complain. However, the fact that a brand makes a stand and allots resources to understand and assist a customer can really provide hands-on evidence of the values and quality of the company.
In this sense, as we devise our crisis management strategies, we should not think that the reason for a crisis plan is simply to deal with online complaints, but on the contrary to use the “opportunity” of an unexpected issue to reinforce the values and principles that guide the company.
Great, now that we’ve touched upon all three steps, let’s move to our conclusive remarks.
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There you have it! In this post, we’ve looked at how to set up an action plan to manage your online reputation.
As we’ve discussed, there are a few simple steps to follow to make sure that any issue that may arise does not catch us unprepared.
As per any strategy, it is helpful to have it in place before the crisis hits, so make sure you’re spending time understanding what approach better serves your brand and its reputation.
This is especially relevant if your social media presence is managed by a team. By setting up clear intervention rules, it will be easier for a group of people to represent the company with a consistent voice.
If you’d like to read more on the topic, here’s a book we recommend reading: RepGold: A Step-by-Step Guide to Successfully Repair and Build Your Online Reputation.
Also, do not hesitate to visit our blog, where we're offering a wealth of material on social media management.