When you’re annoyed, where do you go? When you’re excited about something, where do you go? In the digital age, these destinations are, in many cases, some form of social media. And if you’re on the receiving end of this, the outcome could either be really positive or really negative. The latter, unfortunately, often results in long-term impact.
This is one of the many reasons why reputation management is so important. Crises that come with reputation management concerns are every company’s nightmare. While some crises occur regardless of how much you prepare, the real key is how you respond. It’s really just an extension of customer service.
How responsive is your brand online? Do you have a reputation management plan?
When people take to social media, they want to be heard. They want to get something good or bad off their chest. If it is something good, they want to have someone applaud and congratulate them. If it is something bad, they want sympathy or acknowledgement of how they’ve been wronged. This is when they often involve the brand.
What do you do when this happens to your brand? The truth is, it’s not easy, but maintaining and restoring your brand’s reputation is possible. For starters, even before a crisis happens or someone says something negative about your brand, you need to have to have a plan in place. An in-depth plan is great, but sometimes small businesses are pulled in so many different other directions that they don’t have the time for this. But, there are strategies such as having a generic statement prepared for crisis situations that even the smallest of businesses can do.
This way, when a reputation management issue arises, you can respond quickly and thoughtfully. We’re not saying that you have to respond within the minute or even 5 minutes of the outreach, but you shouldn’t let too much time slip by before you address it. You want your audience to feel important, and if too much time passes, they could feel belittled. It also depends on which platform the comment or question has appeared. If it’s Twitter, the response will need to come more quickly than on Facebook due to the real-time functionality of Twitter. According to SocialBakers, Twitter is actually where brands will most likely hear from their customers.
However, even though responding in a timely fashion is imperative, you can’t be hasty. The response needs to be meaningful. You don’t want your customers to think that you have a troll pushing out automated responses. There needs to be depth and reason to your response. Now, it is acceptable to send a series of responses or take the conversation private through email or messages, but you want to always make sure the audience knows you care.
Secondly, it’s very important that brands respond with honesty and transparency. The process of branding is all about building a trusted name and reputation. So, if you have done this, you don’t want to blow all your hard work on not giving your customers what they want. There is nothing worse than feeling misled. You don’t always have to reveal all the details, but you do want customers to feel like they are getting the full story.
In 2012, NM Incite and Nielsen released a report on the state of social customer service. Among the findings, the report found the impact of one negative comment could counter up to five positive comments:
Remember Target’s massive credit card breach that occurred back in December? The retailer received a lot of backlash for withholding information during this time. After some of the initial buzz died down, in January, news came out that 70 million more customers were targeted by the breach. What’s more, as even more information has come out, Target recently said it declined to act early even though it knew. Do you think the retailer could have avoided some of this backlash had it been transparent? It’s very possible.
One of the best ways that reputation management issues can be resolved is through listening. What is the real concern? Having this understanding helps you better respond and address the issue. This also helps you to address issues early. Constant Contact posted the following quote on Facebook recently:
This is very true in regards to reputation management. Having this active presence and listening helps to provide both a human and personal touch to your brand. Beyond this, it sends the message that you care.
GM is another brand that is going through some of these issues currently. As you’ve probably heard, the automaker is experiencing the recall of 1.6 million cars that are linked to 12 deaths. However, GM is maintaining its social activity. Yes, there are negative comments and outcries that the company is addressing, but GM is still maintaining its social media strategy by promoting jobs, conducting contests, boasting new technology, and more to show that there is more to its name than the recall.
As unfortunate as it can be, missteps happen. But, brands can either break down as a result of opposition, or they can rise above it and move forward. It’s all about the response.
Display image courtesy of gottmanblog.com.