How to protect your employer brand in a social media crisis
A third of the world’s population uses social media every month. 2.5 billion people. That’s a crowd you can’t ignore. Yet a number of companies are doing just that, avoiding Facebook entirely, out of fear of potential consequences. In an age where a short video or a poorly worded tweet can bring down in minutes a reputation that took a company has decades to build, many understandably err on the side of maximum caution. While putting your head in the sand might help you sleep better at night, it won’t allow you to compete in today’s business environment, whether you’re chasing deals or talent.
Prevention is better than cure.
The best way to avoid either employees or customers leaving negative comments online is to simply treat them well. Encourage a culture of openness in the office, where managers are open to criticism and employees feel free to speak up. Similarly, provide your customers and clients with clear ways to voice their concerns or complaints, and make sure they know you’re listening. The objective is to have any frustration addressed before it turns into full-blown anger. The last thing you want is a disgruntled employee raging all over the internet on social media and other public forums.
While you should always aim for prevention, sometimes that ship will have sailed. If something went wrong and the news is already out, or if someone’s leaving angry, inappropriate and untruthful comments about you, it’s then time to get in damage control mode…
Knowledge is power.
To ensure you’re the first to know when things are stirring on the internet, monitor your social media channels and even the web for any negative comments pertaining to your business. You will have to invest some hours, but there are plenty of free and paid online monitoring tools that will help you get the job done. If you’re lacking in budget, free tools like SocialMention or even Google Alerts allow you to somewhat manually search the web to find out who’s saying what about your company. If you do have some money to spend but are still starting out, I recommend Hootsuite. You can track any social media mentions as well as create and schedule posts to different platforms all from one unified interface. For those looking to dig deeper — into monitoring as well as their pockets — tools like Sysomos and Sprout Social offer comprehensive monitoring and analytics services.
A fault confessed is half redressed.
Once you’ve determined that an online post warrants a response, use social media to get ahead of the situation by making a public statement acknowledging what has happened and explaining how it’s being remedied. Before you respond, however, solicit advice from both a PR professional and potentially a lawyer. Saying the wrong thing can exacerbate the situation or even open your company up to legal trouble.
Remove unwanted comments on Facebook.
Unwanted comments on your company Facebook page tend to fall into one of three categories. They can be (1) genuine complaints, (2) slander, or (3)inappropriate/offensive in nature.
- Genuine complains. In the first case, you want to follow much of the advice above. Most people lead busy lives, so if someone takes the time to leave a complaint on your Facebook page, that means they care and so should you. Reply to the comment on your page publicly acknowledging their bad experience and offer to continue the conversation through email or private messaging. Even if you feel you’re not at fault, do not dismiss complaints as unfounded. Instead, see what you can do to turn your unhappy customer into a happy one.
- Slander. If someone is repeatedly leaving false negative comments and reviews on your Facebook page, that might qualify as slander. Unfortunately, you cannot remove reviews yourself, and while you can report reviews for not following the Facebook Community Standards, there’s no direct mention of defamation in those guidelines. The more effective way to deal with false posts and reviews is to ban the poster from your page. When you ban someone, they will no longer be able to publish to your page; like or comment on posts; message your page; or even like it. Now that you’ve prevented them from posting again, you have two options: hide the bad review (and all your good ones) by turning off the review option altogether, or leave it be, assuming that most people will be smart enough to identify one rogue review among multiple good ones.
- Inappropriate/offensive. The final category of unwanted posts should be relatively quick and easy to deal with. As mentioned, Facebook has clear Community Standards and they include guidelines on topics like nudity, hate speech, and violent and graphic content. As such, you should report any inappropriate or offensive posts or reviews to Facebook, who will review and if deemed a violation remove them.
In the spirit of prevention, you can also choose to try and limit the amount of unwanted posts that make it onto your page by opting to review posts by others before they appear publicly. Additionally, you can use Facebook’s profanity filter to automatically mark posts containing certain words as spam, preventing them from showing up on your page.
Stay cool when dealing with negative reviews on Glassdoor.
In the 10 years since it was founded, jobs and recruiting site Glassdoor has become well known for its ever-growing database of company reviews. A good rating can be a great marketing and employer branding tool, but a negative post can hurt your reputation for years. The site operates largely based on trust, allowing people to anonymously upload reviews. Every post is reviewed and their Community Guidelines state that any review must be “truthful”, but proving someone’s review is false is often a matter of “he said, she said”.
Aside from treating employees well, arguably one of the best ways to avoid Glassdoor turning into a risk area for your employer brand is to not overreact. Addressing an incoherent angry 1-star review by responding will only draw attention to it. Leave it be and trust people will be able to see through it. If you’re faced with a well argued negative review with some truth to it, you may want to leave a short response. Similar to the Facebook complaint, acknowledge the reviewer’s bad experience, thank them for their feedback, and let them know you’re working to improve things. A human response showing willingness to listen and learn can mitigate some of the damage done by the review itself.
So you’ve just become the subject of a viral tweet…
As United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz would probably tell you, Twitter can be dangerously viral. More so than for any platform, speed is of the essence. While the general rules of responding in a human and understanding manner still apply, you only have 140 characters to do so. If you’re hoping to put an incident to bed with one all encompassing statement, you could choose to attach an image of the statement to a tweet, circumventing the character limit.
Another option is to respond in a series of tweets. This works particularly well if you’re managing an ongoing issue, as people will appreciate receiving short updates that show you’re working to resolve the problem.
A frequent mistake on Twitter is deleting your own content once it starts to get flak. If it turns out your initial response is only fuelling the fire, do not delete the tweet. Chances are someone will have already taken a screenshot of it, so deleting it will seem like you’re attempting a cover-up. What you should do when your own tweet goes bad is: don’t panic. Stay calm and respond on the same channel where the initial message was published. You can choose to respond with a video on Twitter, but don’t try to be overly smart and put it out as a press release.
In conclusion, whenever the crisis hits (and lets be honest, it probably will), keep a cool head, be straightforward and honest, and remember that others have been through this before. Leadership is defined in times of crisis. Learn from past mistakes and take console in the fact that time heals most wounds.
About me: I’m the CEO of Talkpush (www.talkpush.com), a recruitment platform which generates thousands of hires every year. Our recruitment chatbot currently processes over 50,000 candidates a month. Are you ready to start engaging with talent at scale? Send me a message or write to us on Facebook .