Companies benefit extensively from having a strong social media business strategy, and with Facebook users now hitting upwards of 1.15 billion, that’s never been more true. When a company is part of a global social marketplace of this size, however, the ramifications of “bad” publicity take on a whole new meaning.
That’s the dark side of social media, as Swiss multinational food company Nestle found out when it was hit with a Greenpeace protest over its use of palm oil in manufacturing. Nestle’s responses were seen as retaliatory and immature, which inflamed the situation more than necessary.
Be prepared to manage brand fallout on Facebook with these 6 tactics.
Tactic #1: Be Prepared
Baden-Powell’s good old Scouts’ motto “be prepared” is vital for effectively managing a Facebook smear campaign. The majority of companies don’t have dedicated staff handling social media profiles, and often it’s left to the summer intern or the owner’s teenage nephew to do. If there’s any risk that the brand could be damaged by a disgruntled customer posting on Facebook, then the company’s business strategy needs to include appointing a qualified person or team to manage it.
Tactic #2: Monitor Mentions
In the age of the information superhighway, it’s possible to monitor all mentions on a company’s Facebook page in real time. Online reputation management tools such as Google alerts provide updates as they occur, and by keeping a close eye on a corporate Facebook wall, the social media team can catch negative posts soon after they are published. Keeping a finger on the pulse enables management to respond without delay, and hopefully reduce the risk of social virality that can be deadly to a brand.
Tactic #3: Mobilize Immediately
There’s no time like the present, and with technology making instant updates a reality the response should be equally rapid. Compile a comprehensive social media business strategy that can be implemented quickly during a crisis, avoiding the need for long planning sessions. The longer it takes for the company to respond, the greater the Facebook fallout will be by the time the response is posted.
Tactic #4: Use the Platform
The opportunity to use Facebook for two-way communication is a big part of the social media site’s appeal. Instead of indignantly deleting derogatory comments from users, which will simply fuel the fire and invite publishing of screen shots showing the original posts, use the platform as an opportunity to respond. Join in the conversation in a measured, objective and conciliatory tone to maximise success.
Tactic #5: Take Ownership
Deniability is dead in the Facebook age! Remember it’s all about perception, and if the company is perceived to have done wrong an apology is the first step towards resolving the problem. Even if a company isn’t to blame for an issue, denying it will invite retaliation. Rather, make taking ownership part of the business strategy and turn social media issues into a competitive advantage by accepting responsibility, fixing the problem and apologizing to anyone affected by it.
Tactic #6: Act in Good Faith
Do everything possible to rectify the situation, and use Facebook as a medium for communicating the actions taken. Attempts to shift blame are more likely to be remembered by the public than anything else about the situation. By implementing measures to resolve the issue and communicating them widely, the company can win respect for its efforts regardless of the outcome.