Merriam-Webster mentions a phrase called “succès de scandale“, alluding to the notoriety of something because of how scandalous it can be. In the business world, social media marketing forms the backbone of many companies’ sales strategy, and in this way, a mistake on social media can be devastating to a company’s image. The term, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” comes to mind when thinking about social media faux-pas. No matter how bad the problem may be, there’s always a solution to it or a way around it. So exactly what sort of things should be done to turn such a massive negative into a positive?
1. Leave The Mistakes Where They Are
One of the most egregious sins a company can commit on social media after having a disaster is pretending that disaster never happened. As CIO notes, a company should never lie on social media, and removing something that the company did that was wrong insults the intelligence of the customer, making them even more angry. What should be done in such a situation is admitting the mistake and sending out an apology to those that it affected. A good social media manager also knows how to turn negative publicity into positive publicity, and might even poke a little fun at the company’s own foot-in-mouth moment.
2. Get Back in the Ring
After a company has a social media meltdown, it’s understandable that they may want to avoid the social media space for a bit. This is a mistake. Social media is a marketing platform first and foremost. Negative feedback is likely to occur, but completely shutting down a social media campaign over a problem is definitely not the way to drum up confidence and support in a brand. Rather, set a social media policy in place for dealing with the issue when it comes up and soldier on. Customers appreciate a business showing backbone, especially if they were the center of a scandal.
3. Avoid Emotional Responses
While it’s true that emotional marketing can be a valid method of selling a product, emotional outbursts on social media, especially stemming from the company’s own social media issues, can lead to the opposite. Entrepreneur noted how, in 2017, United Airlines fiascoes led to a cold, seemingly unfeeling apology from the CEO Oscar Munoz. On social media, having the same sort of response (i.e. not empathizing with the people your social media mistake may have hurt and even antagonizing them) is a surefire way to drive down interest in the brand. Emotional responses are the initial response we have to negativity, and it’s important that a social media manager for a company understand that these responses are not helpful in the least in aiding a company to bounce back from a social media collapse. Instead, the responses should be warm, reassuring, and measured, as though you’ve just attended a relaxing meditation studio Toronto.
4. Rebuild the Brand Image
A brand is more than a logo or a slogan. A brand is what that brand stands for. In order to bounce back from a social media disaster, the brand must rebuild from where it is now. There’s no saves to reload to go back to before the incident. And so we are left trying to figure out how to move forwards. One of the most positive ways of doing that is to offer promotional gifts or discounts. It takes a very skilled marketing group to come up with a way to do that so that trolls don’t capitalize on the company to drive its image down even further. It’s a calculated risk that can backfire if not done properly, but can rebuild the brand significantly if it is executed to perfection.
5. Watch Out for Automated Posting
Many companies have reported that their social media problems stemmed from their automated queued posting. Sometimes an unfortunate post surfaces which may be irrelevant, or might even be offensive based on current events. Due to the ever-presence of customers on social media sites, making sure that the social media posting queue of a company doesn’t contain any posts that could destroy the company’s image is of tantamount importance when dealing with social media. This is why social media managers need to be aware of current events at all times and revise their posting strategy if the need arises.
Not the End of the World
Brands are representative of a company, but at its heart, a brand is an idea, and as Alan Moore says in V for Vendetta, “Ideas are bulletproof.” Having a brand bounce back is just a matter of saying the right things at the right times. Social media can be critical of errors, and in some cases it could lead to further mistakes by being overly careful. Being aware of what works and what doesn’t is a good start, but for a company to truly return from the brink after a social media disaster, it needs to re-find it’s voice. Only then would customers start looking at it as fondly as they did before.