Let me ask you some questions. Do you keep a list of the people who have access to your corporate Twitter account? Do you change your account passwords regularly? Have you set in place clear guidelines for social media engagement? Are you monitoring the names of your senior execs using a sophisticated monitoring tool? And do you know exactly what you’d do if an angry customer kicked-off on your Facebook Page?
If your answer to these questions is “Yes of course, Luke, don’t patronise me”, I congratulate you. Now please move along. For the remaining 99.9% of us – who only respond to crises when they are bearing down upon us – this may be useful…
I gave a talk at Online Information 2011 in London today (see my slides below) that focused on limiting the reputational risks for organisations using social media. I suggested 4 options/steps for doing this:
- Take preventative measures – These included carefully managing your social media account details, changing passwords, setting up a good quality social media monitoring tool (and employing an Analyst to help create your queries), ensuring your staff are trained and doing dry-runs of “crisis scenarios”. Crucially I also urged companies to engage and “make friends”. When everything hits the fan, it’s great when your customers and contacts leap, unprompted, to your defence.
- Remove the content – If you’ve posted something you didn’t mean to, you can remove it. If someone else posted something you don’t like, you could ask them to remove it. If it’s illegal (i.e. they don’t have the right to publish it) you can take a more legal route – but if its “malicious” or “misleading”, it may also breaks the terms of conditions on Facebook, Twitter and other networks, so you can ask them to remove it for you.
- Engage – If someone is maliciously posting negative comments about you, they may be a “troll” – i.e. someone who is simply mischief-making and isn’t interested in resolving the issue. Don’t respond to trolls. If the person has a genuine point and isn’t a troll, but you’re in the right – you should simply state the facts and make your case. If you’re in the wrong, you should apologise, grovel (a little) and offer to make amends. This is the part where you convert “haters” into “advocates” if you’re diplomatic and/or fortunate.
- Bury it – Not what I’d usually advise, but if you’re faced with a negative blog post that’s appearing in search results, and all else fails, you can simply publish and optimise content for the same words that the negative content is ranking for (perhaps your company name) to push the bad story down the rankings. It’s remarkable how quickly you can do this if you put your mind to it.
Hopefully this will save you the anguish and unpleasantness of a real-time social media reputation crisis. As and when this occurs, please calculate what it would have cost your business in terms of lost income, damage to reputation, clean-up time etc. and send me a cheque in the post. I’ll be waiting.