What do you do when your reputation is on the line? Social media makes it easy for people to populate an opinion or a story very quickly across the world. Businesses can be challenged when misleading or negative information is being spread and in some cases can lead to serious reputation damage. Today we discuss how to handle business situations on social media when the public opinion is one that has been skewed. Sometimes the larger you get as a business than the larger the target.
Listen to the podcast here:
Our hosts leave you with 3 great takeaways to help your business navigate the reputation river of information.
Social media is not the job for low-level team members.
Don’t be afraid to use humor to diffuse situations. (Where appropriate!)
Be prepared. Have a response plan in place prior to the crisis.
Sharon Noot: Okay so here’s a question. What do you do when, you have consumers people random whatever, actually putting messages on you or something you run like your Facebook page or your corporate website where you have it open to comments what do you do when people are putting really negative things on that?
Stefanie LaHart: Well you know what, the rule on social is that you don’t delete anything you just simply address everything. I will preface with saying that there are instances sometimes when you get into people who are doing something that is harassment or it is… you know racially motivated or something like that something that gets really mean I think it’s appropriate to delete that stuff but it’s somebody that doesn’t agree with your business or maybe did have a bad experience at your business as you’ve seen like in the recent news with a couple of establishment you know and it really blew up on media in general I think it’s important that you leave those comments up and then you address them.
Sharon Noot: Okay.
Stefanie LaHart: Unless it’s just outright you know racial or really slanderous like that I think it’s important that you let people have their say, and also that the conversation continues, so like, you know we heard about there was a business in the news I won’t even mention who it was, something happened at one of their physical locations, it was a big you know to do I think it’s important that people are allowed to talk about that online. Whatever their opinions might be, because we all have different opinions based on what our experience in our lives have been so for me sitting there I could’ve looked at and be like well that’s totally not true because I’ve never experienced it, which is a true statement I’ve never experienced so I don’t know but so many who may have had that in their life you know they did have that experience and also their input is also true so social media does give you the platform to be able to have that conversation. Now if it starts getting abusive if it starts getting out of control I like to actually you said in another one of our conversations which was take the conversation offline.
Sharon Noot: Right, yes, you got to give them the opportunity to speak with you through a different channel what’s not in front of everybody, but you say that you present that option in a very positive way like how can I help you know I’d love to help you with this issue please let me know how I can contact you privately and then everyone just sees that it’s been moved to the next level and resolved but they don’t have to see the back and forth right there for everyone to see it’s not necessary.
Stefanie LaHart: Yes and you know I’ve actually see some funny conversations between some kind of customer service department and a business where the customer service department tries in earnest to get it off line saying “oh call us right now we’ll help you” but the person now is so full of their own frost they just want to keep like spewing online and they’ll keep saying stuff and then the customer service department keeps saying just contact us we’re waiting to hear from you and it’s actually defuse the situation because it becomes funny that this person refused to find a solution for their problem you know.
Sharon Noot: What do you do with professional like trolls or like everybody has the customer that cannot be satisfied no matter what or people that are just malicious and they get this to shit disturbers and they’re just going to… they have decided that you are the one they’re going to put their life’s purpose is going to be to make your life a living hell, so they are just going to be trolling you.
Stefanie LaHart: Yes that’s you know it’s a tricky situation because, it’s one of those things that you can say well I’m going to handle it this way but depending on their activity level. It has to think be managed on an individual basis how to deal with that person I don’t think it’s a good to you know idea ever to like just simply trying to slight advantage your people because what happens then is that you just give them the stage and they can say whatever they want, but also when people start to get really out there just really taken it to the next level of crazy people who are watching the conversation can see that progression and can see that person and that consumer taking it in a direction that it shouldn’t be and then it also works to your advantage because suddenly you know what the crazy is right there for everyone to see.
Sharon Noot: Right, I had heard a story once about this, before the internet, where a dissatisfied customer for some sort of a product or service, bought like a billboard stating their beef and how unhappy they were and put it on a on a truck and drove it around like every day drove it around near the business.
Stefanie LaHart: Yes Well I mean there’s actually there was a movie out recently which was about somebody taking out a billboard to protest something that happened like in their town and all.
Sharon Noot: But how about a moving billboard, come on… on a car.
Stefanie LaHart: Well you know when there’s nothing you can do to stop that they certainly can do that but guess what if it’s something just driving around you can still address it online especially people talking about it
Sharon Noot: This was before the internet though, and then what would you do.
Stefanie LaHart: I don’t know.
Sharon Noot: I think you let the crazy speak for itself I mean.(inaudible 05:45-05:47)
Stefanie LaHart: Let the crazies speak for itself, but no seriously at least with social media it does give you a way to address things. If good, bad, indifferent it allows you to not only to address crises has it happens but also to give people better customer service experiences. I mean I’ve used it myself, even on Twitter where something was not going as I had hoped and I contacted the company publicly and then suddenly there was a resolution, which is good you know because at least you know, it leaves you with a good feeling about the company and things like that. So why don’t we do our favorite thing in the world and give three takeaways?
Sharon Noot: Okay, but before that I wanted to mention that actually I’m you know in the last couple of years now that Twitter has become so you know it’s used it’s used by every single brand now I have definitely found that when I needed information, the best way to get it is to tweet the brand and they usually will get back to you right away. At first I thought well there probably are not I mean… we’ve talked before how I’m not really I mean I’m on Twitter to read information and to be aware of things but I don’t post a lot, barely at all. So I would think well why would a brand respond to me it’s not like I have any power I don’t have a lot of followers stuff I’m saying something them they’re not going to pay attention to me but in reality they are, because if I’m tagging them other people will see it as well. And if they’re being efficient and responding to me then, you know what, I just think also people like who calls the 1800 number of a company now to listen to an automated message to find out some piece of information that was not readily available on their website? It’s like why are you going to go through that and get somebody and have to jump through hoops to figure out who’s the right person to talk to, if you have a question just ask them on line and usually get a response.
Stefanie LaHart: That is very true, I mean I do that as well it’s like I’m more likely to reach out on social media or to see if my answers already been answered on social media than anything else. I think that’s a good thing because you know what when it comes to reputation management for businesses, the larger you get, you know how they say you become a bigger target. But I do think it give businesses the ability to respond in a timely and positive manner as well, so if something does happen that is legitimately their mistake, they have a way to not just apologize but to talk about how they’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future and I think that’s important.
Sharon Noot: Absolutely, okay let’s do our takeaways.
Stefanie LaHart: Take away time.
Sharon Noot: Take away time.
Stefanie LaHart: Give me your number one take away.
Sharon Noot: Well.
Stefanie LaHart: How about your first take away? (Crosstalk 08:27-08:29).
Sharon Noot: Yes, here’s one and I would be interested to see what you think of this. I think that brands need to know, companies need to know that the person that they give the responsibility of the person that’s responsible for monitoring their social media and responding to issues or the person that has the keys to your social media. Should not be like a very low level person for example, I feel like it’s better now but I’m definitely a while ago a few years ago, they would say like Internet social media that’s stuff that’s handled by the young folks so you know they have their younger team members being the one given the keys to the social media, which can be a disaster because they don’t have the world experience that an older more sophisticated, more experienced marketing person might have and all it takes is one bad tweet, to destroy a lot of goodwill for a for a brand.
Stefanie LaHart: I agree so in essence then your first takeaway is you know what your response needs to come from top level.
Sharon Noot: Don’t think that social media like managing a Twitter account and doing that is something that’s so like well level you just have someone doing it. I will give an example because this is what I’ve seen a couple in there but they’re also bad I don’t want to talk about them, but I will just say that on a on a sports program when they were covering a live event it was one of those things where they had the tweets kind of going on the screen. People’s comments and whatnot and whoever was picking the tweets, that would be shown, was obviously sort of a junior level person or someone not very intelligent, because they put up a message that clearly had very racial undertones but it was using language or a scenario or luding to something that someone younger probably wasn’t aware of, and it was a disaster. So they had someone… I’ll tell you offline what it was but not good.
Stefanie LaHart: You know what? Listen, social media has grown up and you can’t have just low level people managing your accounts, especially the bigger your business, I mean it’s a verifiable job it’s how I make my living being a social media expert and strategist, so you know it pays to have people that can respond in a very top level way as we like to say.
Sharon Noot: Exactly.
Stefanie LaHart: It comes to your social media, so that’s a good takeaway and that’s all really important one and you know what I said earlier don’t be afraid to use humor to defuse the situation, where appropriate, obviously not when lives are lost. It’s just a matter of like you know what sometimes if you could just get people to that even playing field instead of you know, tempers rising, a little bit of humor I think goes a really long way, so you know look for those opportunities to I think lighten the mood but always in inappropriate ways.
Sharon Noot: I always bounce it off of another team member just to make sure.
Stefanie LaHart: Of course.
Sharon Noot: Are you call your best friend in marketing and you say what do you think of this because sometimes you just got to make sure but absolutely when it works it works very well.
Stefanie LaHart Yes, because again like you want to… we’re all people you know come from a human response Don’t just read me a textbook manual response that was written by a lawyer because that’s going to do nothing but piss off the community it’s going to piss off people are going to say oh you’re just you’re just reading a textbook you don’t really care, so that brings us to take away number 3 and I know this is one of your favorites so I’m going to let you say it.
Sharon Noot: What?
Stefanie LaHart: About honesty.
Sharon Noot: Which one?
Stefanie LaHart: About honesty.
Sharon Noot: Oh I was going to use that one, I was going to say be prepared.
Stefanie LaHart: That is better. I’ll let you use that one then be prepared.
Sharon Noot: Are we going to have going to have a bonus one, be prepared. Doesn’t matter how small your company your product is, you need to have a plan in place for what you do in the event of a crisis and it just has to be something that you have in place that your employees are aware of, and it’s something that’s actionable so when that does happen when something happens you know what your communication strategy is, who’s going to do your messaging, how are going to get the information out and I are going to respond to any number of issues that might come up about your company, but everyone has to have a plan.
Stefanie LaHart: I think that is excellent advice and you’re right that’s the perfect 3rd take away have plans in place; know what you’re going to say before the situation arises. Just so we’re on the same page…
Sharon Noot: Same wavelength.
Stefanie LaHart: Same wavelength, that’s funny because I’m watching the wavelength of our podcast being recorded right now we’re doing it. This was really good show, I think we covered some great topics about online reputation management, you know, reputation management in general, again it’s one of those things that is constantly changing in the industry and you know, let’s just work to make or our interactions more authentic and more honest based and I think we will have a lot of leverage moving forward in that way don’t you agree?
Sharon Noot: Does that mean you are going to stop… they’re going to stop deleting all the negative comments about our podcast?
Stefanie LaHart: No, never, I love negative comments about our podcast because it makes me laugh. How do you say that you’ve never seen one negative podcast comment yet? Isn’t negative the cool comments? I’m going to look at it right there, maybe that show. Is bad publicity better than no publicity? That’s the topic coming up. Okay let’s leave that one right there this is that I enjoy talking with you so much, hopefully our audience is getting a lot of value and information out of what we’re talking about. You know what I don’t think we’ve mentioned in previous podcast but if you guys out there that are listening to this if you have a topic that you have a question about or something you would hear us cover, please feel free to just leave a comment under this podcast or whatever platform you’re listening on and let us know e-mail right there on the page and you know what we’ll cover it we’ll talk about it we’ll see what’s going on and maybe we can help you and other business owners as well. Navigate the ever changing world of traditional P.R. and all marketing.
Sharon Noot: Love it
Stefanie LaHart: Thank you so much and I’ll talk to you again soon
Sharon Noot: Thank you.
Stefanie LaHart: Bye.
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