It’s out there! Those words always make our hearts race when we send an eblast, blog, or social media post. We got the copy ready, picked out some great visuals to accompany it, and then sent it off to let your customers know who you are and what you do.

You may know this, but setting up a great campaign on social media is the easy part. Monitoring it and responding if a problem arises is where it gets difficult. If you’re active on social media, you’ve already seen how controversy can hurt someone’s reputation. Granted, these incidents can be handled proactively, like when a Red Cross employee inadvertently shared a personal tweet on the corporate account. Both the employee and the Red Cross acknowledged the mistake on their accounts with grace and a little humor.

PR nightmares

There are other social media crises that weren’t handled so well. The infamous United Airlines scandal in 2017 is a good example. A passenger was violently removed from one of their airplanes, and the recorded footage went viral on social media. The backlash sparked a flurry of tweets and memes that made the incident a PR nightmare for United. Instead of apologizing and handling the situation with empathy, United doubled down on the incident. Naturally, this worsened their reputation and their shareholder value. Most recently, Hollywood actor Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars still permeates social media discourse, which will most likely affect the actor’s personal brand.

Even if you haven’t been in the thick of a massive social media crisis like these, you can imagine that setting aside your own reactions and feelings requires tons of inner strength. It takes a lot of empathy and finesse to respond in a diplomatic way when a social media crisis hits. It’s easy to be reactive when your company’s name might be (or is being) dragged through the mud. To keep any rumblings about your business from becoming a full-on PR nightmare, being proactive about your approach is the best way to go.

Like having an emergency preparedness plan, planning for a social media crisis is essential to managing your pages and overall online reputation. Whether you manage your business pages yourself or are collaborating with a solutions provider, you should know what to do and how to best represent your brand when its reputation is on the line on social media.

Here’s what you should consider doing to avoid a tarnished reputation on social media.

Monitor what people are saying

The best way to prepare for a social media crisis is to prevent one. You know what that means: going above and beyond to provide excellent service to your clients. It also means something else: identifying potential pitfalls and threats to your company’s good name.

Identifying pitfalls is more than just being aware of your company’s weaknesses. It’s also monitoring your social media accounts for any negative rumblings about your company. Then, diffusing them before they turn into an all-out crisis. Pay attention to mentions of your business, and not just on social media. Monitoring your reviews and overall online reputation should go hand in hand with your social media strategy.

If you have a third party manage your social media pages, they should let you know once a potential threat is identified. Then, you should collaborate on an appropriate response. Another key: all concerns should be addressed, no matter how small they seem. This is a critical step for the most crucial aspect of managing social media crises.

Get ahead of the controversy

Your most critical step when navigating a social media crisis should be to get ahead of the conversation. Like handling a bad review, responding immediately to a social media crisis is crucial. First, getting in front of a complaint or negativity towards your brand allows you to take back control.

It also shows the public that you’re swift to handle any concerns your customers may have. However, responding in a knee-jerk way or without a well-thought-out response can make the social media crisis worse. If you need more time to response, a short acknowledgment and a reassurance that you’re looking into the matter could buy you some time.

Consider your response

Apologies aren’t enough for people anymore. Think about all the times you’ve heard “I’m sorry,” only to be let down later by the same behavior down the road. When considering how to respond, keep this “old chestnut” in mind: “the best apology is changed behavior.”

Let your audience know how you’re going to make it better. Then, take the steps to do so. These steps will depend on the nature of the crisis, and can range from removing a defective product to an extra training day for your employees. It can also be specific, like offering customers who had a bad experience an in-store credit, coupon, or a free replacement.

What to expect when collaborating with a social media manager

If you’ve called in a third party to help you with social media, you should expect a collaborative process. Your solutions provider should represent your brand well and be adept at handling crises when they arise. If and when a crisis rears its head, they should reach out to you and collaborate on an appropriate response with you ASAP!

Your solutions provider may offer suggestions, but you know your brand best. You also know your customer and target audience, so you have insight into your brand experience that your provider won’t. However, an experienced social media management company can help you keep your cool in a crisis, devise a social media policy, and implement communication strategies to protect your social media presence.

You and your customers hang out on social media daily, so it’s more important than ever to monitor what they’re saying about you. Part of our solution includes daily monitoring so you can get ahead of any crises that may emerge. If monitoring your social media presence is becoming a chore, give us a call today and get back to making your customers happy. Sign up for one of our social media packages, and we will waive your set up fee.