Anticipating Social Gone Wrong

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For open, transparent companies with an amazing product and service experience, social media engagement can create huge benefits, but like most things in business there are risks.

Social media is just people being people online, but with better tools. Nothing has changed in their behaviour; it is their ability to be found and heard, and find others who think the same that is new and significant. Social media and the internet amplify the voices of those who publish content online, whether they love you or hate you.

Sometimes people will say things that businesses would prefer them not to. The internet has made it easier than ever to publish and spread this material. Sites like Facebook and WordPress make it easy to tap into an existing audience, or get indexed by Google and appear in brand searches. When a product or service has a branded social media presence or community, it can give them access to a highly relevant audience for their dissatisfaction, ire and angst, which can disrupt the business’ promotional activity and damage the brand.

It is hard to completely avoid this risk without losing the benefits from fostering conversation and building online communities. Here are a few ways a business can prepare to address these problems if or when they arise:

  • Anticipate the negative responses and plan on how and how not to respond
  • Make internal stakeholders aware of what can go wrong
  • Communicate response plans and processes internally with key stakeholders
  • Ensure that those with the authority to respond in negative situations are easily reached
  • Make staff aware of relevant policies

If no thought is given to what might go wrong, there is a greater risk of the company responding badly, and inflaming the situation further. Planning for problems that may arise before the fact ensures that the business’ response will most likely be timely, articulate and appropriate.

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