Understanding your brand and thoroughly communicating that understanding to your clients and followers is essential in order to mitigate negative comments and problems online and in the office. Make sure your company’s branding, key messaging, mission statement etc. are reiterated often to employees and are available on your website so current and potential clients are able to see how your company represents itself before they even walk into your office.
Continually update this messaging and show that your company has upheld its policies and beliefs by collecting and displaying testimonials and case studies from within your company on its website and social media accounts.
When using Facebook, your business can interact with its followers by following-up on posts that have been written on your page. If someone comments on something or has written your business via Facebook on their own volition, it’s essential to respond to them; and do so in a timely manner. Many customers are taking to companies’ Facebook pages to communicate issues they are having when going through traditional routes has not proven effective.
Of course, not all feedback can be positive. Certain companies have been under the radar lately for deleting comments when their customers have used this route to deal with issues. If someone has a complaint and has posted on your company’s public “wall,” be sure to be polite, but not discuss the issue at hand on the “wall” as well. A good example of handling this would be to write,
“Hi Customer X,
We are very sorry you are having trouble, and we will speak with you right away to make sure we can take of any problems you may be having. We appreciate your feedback.”
From there, message the client privately and get their contact information, such as phone number, e-mail, and mailing address. Dealing with customers via social media can seem a little impersonal in certain situations, especially crisis management. The best ways to follow-through and solve their issues is either face-to-face, or by one of the contact mediums listed above.
For online customer reviews on sites like Yelp and Google, dealing with negative comments comes with the territory. While Yelp and Google both have filters that are the basis for judging what comments are left on your business’ page and what get filtered out (either because of spam, inappropriateness or an untrue review), comments that do not put your company in the best light will still remain, no matter how great your business really is. Your business should handle these comments in the same manner as it would for Facebook. Yelp and Google allow business owners to publicly and personally responds to commenters, but warn business owners to be very cautious when doing so, as to avoid even bigger problems. Reviewers can be ruthless and that should be kept in mind at all times. Yelp and Google both have a help page on their respective websites on how to deal with both positive and negative comments.
To uphold your business’ reputation online to the best of your ability, drafting a social media contract for anyone who handles your account(s) is a smart plan to ensure there are no surprises on your social media.
A sample Big Buzz’s social media trainer gave us looks similar to this:
The following guidelines have been established to ensure understanding and adherence to Big Buzz’ social media usage policy. Social media projects are owned by Big Buzz including: content, artwork, photography, interviews, and future usage. Social media champions agree to uphold the company/brand standards, represent Big Buzz in a favorable light and maintain ongoing contact with Big Buzz’ social media staff. In the event of separation of employment from Big Buzz, administrative access will be revoked. Employees may not send or receive messages in violation of federal and state law, in violation of Company policy, in violation of the property or copyright interest of another, or in any inappropriate discriminatory or unauthorized manner. Use of Company-provided resources in violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
While this may seem a bit serious for something like social media, having a contract like this in place at your business is a smart move, just in case something does go awry and reactive management needs to happen. Because users of Facebook and Twitter have to juggle their personal and business accounts, confusion on which account you are posting for has been known to happen. For example, KitchenAid’s PR nightmare during the Presidential debates last month.
Taking preventive measures and making your brand as transparent as possible are always the best ways to handle your companies’ messaging and branding, rather than dealing reactively to issues could have been prevented. If your business is unsure on how to craft a better communication plan, consider hiring a communication specialist who can look at your company from an objective viewpoint and help you create a better strategy.