When Social Media Attacks!

By Rich Lewis of Burlington Press

Social Media is a two-way conversation. Be prepared when the conversation doesn’t go the way you expect.

Like it or not, social media is here and making an impact on the way we market ourselves. When you boil it down, social media is a conversation that we have with our clients, customers, donors, or fans.  It is one of the only marketing channels that are actually a two- way public conversation. Because anyone can say anything, you have to be vigilant because not everyone is going to say something nice.

Even if your organization is not marketing to the consumer and your brand isn’t as well-known as the YMCA or Coke, you still could be subject to a social media attack. Negative social media interactions can spread quickly, so here are some ideas on how to respond.

Negative social media attacks can come from anywhere. They don’t always come from your fan community. While a dissatisfied customer may be the source, groups or individuals that are against your industry, the way you conduct your business or even the suppliers you use can start a negative campaign. Be prepared by being informed as to what is happening in your industry that may be bringing about a wave of negative publicity.

Plan for it. Have a plan in place to respond to negative publicity. Have a “Posting Comments Policy” on your Facebook page.  Here are some good ideas:

  • No disrespectful behavior.
  • Do not use inappropriate or abusive language.
  • Attacking of others, offensive, vulgar or obscene language will not be tolerated.
  • No language or images depicting violence or hate.
  • No deceptive or misleading language.
  • No spam, viruses or any illegal activities.
  • No solicitations.

Having clear standards allows you to react quickly and calmly. It will also not make you look like you are covering something up. Negative or dissatisfied comments may be a fact of life and shouldn’t be deleted as part of this policy. How you respond to this type of comment may effect a change in the reader.

Pay Attention. Social media is not just Facebook and Twitter. There are many websites where people are invited to review just about anything. Reviews both positive and negative can spread quickly around the internet.  Use social media monitoring tools to help monitor your company or organization’s social media presence. They can be free like Google Alerts or they can be a fee based system like Reptutation.com.

Know your community. The least thing you can do is make sure your social media is monitored regularly. If your social media community is active, you need to understand what is a typical and what is unique behavior out there. By being alert, something abnormal will be noticed quickly and you can respond.

Know what to do. If something bad happens, make an effort to address the issue. Show your loyal fans that you are trying to respond by taking the high road. Here is a plan that one company recently used that made them look good and their attackers look bad:

  1. Remove any offensive and repetitive posts.
  2. Ask to move the conversation to another site like a blog or web page that addresses the issue more effectively.
  3. If the attacker continues, it will look like they are harassing you and you can justify to your loyal fans why you have to shut off the ability to leave comments.

Your fans may defend you. It always looks good when your fans spontaneously react to an attack. They can provide the most authentic response because they are not you; they are honestly trying to help. Know that fan communities don’t always react and it may not be a good idea to try to rally them

Take it seriously. Respond to legitimate concerns as much as you can. Listen and go out of your way to over-communicate your response. Don’t leave anything open to interpretation. Clear, concise information is important.

Recently, Facebook and Twitter have been instrumental in the successful overthrow of oppressive governments. They are also being used by police departments and emergency services to communicate important issues quickly. Social media is having a wide-ranging effect on the world and needs to be paid attention to.

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About marketingfocus

I've been in the print marketing and direct mail business for over 30 years. I guess that means I'm old, but it also means that I bring a certain level of experience and expertise into a business relationship. My company, Burlington Press, specializes in printing and direct mail along a wide range of marketing services including web site design and development, email marketing and video production. For marketing to be effective it needs to be well rounded and use all channels available that make sense.
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