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Posted by joginvik
Friday 06 July 2012 - 17:29:22

SO YOU WANT to do social media, and why not; with a little time and imaginative content, social media can give you a great ROI in a short time frame. But there??™s a darker side that you may not have considered; what happens when good social media strategies go bad?It can happen to the best of us; a tweet sent through a company account that should have been personal, a direct message that wasn??™t so direct, misjudging popular reactions to what should have been a funny comment, or just coming up against your biggest hater. You have to be prepared, you have to know when to fight and when to back down and you have to accept that sometimes you??™re just not going to win.
So what is a brand to do? Well, don??™t let the risks scare you off. Develop a robust social media crisis plan before you start, and you??™ll be able to keep your head in any kind of crisis.

Here are three things you can prepare now to help you manage any potential social crisis.

1. Decide on your impartial strategy maker

If you are the one on the social media frontline, chances are you may not be the best person to respond in a social media crisis. The investment and personality you have put into social media means that you are likely to respond in an overly emotional way and may not see the woods for the trees.
Instead, assign someone the role of 'social media overseer??™ and make sure they are aware that they may be called upon in a crisis. This person should be aware of the general social media strategy, and be familiar enough with all areas of your business that when you need to call on them, they can make an informed yet un?¬emotional decision on how to proceed.

2. Understand the difference between social media and customer service

Just as you don??™t want to have that argument that has been brewing with your ???significant other??™ during a party with all of your friends, you don??™t want every customer service issue aired in front of the entire social media community.

Sometimes, however, customers just don??™t want to back off and, in many cases, they want to make an example of your company to help them feel vindicated in their bad feelings. Accept now that there may be nothing you can do to prevent this, but that you can ensure that everyone watching sees you for the customer-centric business you wish to be perceived as.

Here??™s how:
??? Always respond as if the complainant is the only person you care about.
??? Try and take the complaint offline and get it resolved.
??? Ultimately, no matter how wrong they are, fix it, because the cost of shutting them up is almost always lower than the cost of letting them tell more potential customers how wrong you were.

3. Just how bad can it get?

No seriously, make a list now of every potentially disastrous thing that could go wrong. Look back over previous issues you have had, both online and offline, and think about what would happen if that were to take place on Twitter or Facebook. Read through case studies of brands who have had major social media crises in the past (Habitat, Paperchase, Vodafone and Chrysler have all had major social crises). Think of every worst case scenario you can think of.

Are you depressed yet?

Well relax; take the most likely scenarios and develop plans for them, and make sure that everyone in your social media team is aware of them. Now you can breathe easy, because the truth of a social media crisis is unlikely to be as bad as your worst fears and if one comes along, you will have a plan prepared to deal with it quickly, calmly and effectively.

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