“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison
I came across an article today about a small hotel in New York (Union Street Guest House) that is fining recently wed couples for negative reviews their wedding guests left on the hotel’s Facebook and Yelp page.
Add this to the growing list of other local and national companies that have had major social media snafus recently, ( U.S. Airways, Amy’s Baking Company and Taco Haus Restaurant,) and it becomes evidently clear that businesses of all sizes have a lot to learn when it comes to social media management.
Much like preparing to speak to a reporter or launching a national advertising campaign, groomed, professional and creative content and responses will always win. Unfortunately, one unhappy customer or one rogue post from an employee can sink your company’s reputation as fast as you can hit the “post” button.
Before potentially sending your business off a steep clip via Facebook, Twitter or any other social media channel, consider these guidelines:
The grandma, reporter and customer litmus test — Prior to posting anything to your social feeds, or responding to a negative review and/or complaint, ask yourself what the response might be from anyone and everyone who has access to your social feeds. Which, by the way, is everyone on the planet! If your company’s post would make your grandmother cringe, a reporter write a nasty article or a current customer think twice about doing business with you again, don’t post it… period.
Pay attention to the chatter — As much planning and dedication and energy as you’ve put into making your business the best it can be, from time to time, negativity is going to rear its ugly head. A negative review, a tasteless joke, or even an offhanded comment is out of your hands once it is in the social sphere. No matter how active your company is on social media, taking the time to review and respond to what people are writing about your business is crucial when trying to minimize disasters.
Become a master of response— Should you fall victim to a social media debacle, how you respond to the situation can and will ultimately define what people think of your business. While you may be tempted to defend your brand and craft a retaliatory response, remaining professional and neutral will keep the situation from escalating.
Follow up directly— Listen to what your customers are saying online, and remember to take responsibility for the actions of yourself and your company. This includes your renegade employee who may have used your social media pages in a retaliatory or negative way. Own up to what happened, issue an apology (perhaps even with a press release, if necessary) and do all that you can to earn back peoples’ trust.
Focus on promoting the positive— Are you involved in supporting your local community? Did you just add several new product offerings? Share that information across all of your social media channels, using appropriate language for each. There is nothing wrong with genuine and consistent content that tells the story of the good things your business is doing.
In the end, working with social media and not against it is the only way to truly boost your brand in a positive way via that big black hole we call in the Internet.
Jackie Wright is the owner and president of Rainmaker Integrated, a Scottsdale, Arizona, public relations and marketing firm. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @azprgal
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