I manage social media for small businesses, so you would think that the potential for a major crisis is limited, and for the most part you’d be correct. This, however, doesn’t mean I’d like to be caught unprepared. Part of my job is to be on the front lines of reviews and criticism, making sure that every concern, complaint, and compliment is answered in a timely manner – which generally means within the hour.
It’s also important to know what a real crisis is, and to avoid wasting time on mean tweets. I once had a disgruntled band member slam a venue for not paying them and try to discourage other bands from preforming there. Without knowing the terms of their agreement, the first step was to acknowledge the complaint even before I brought it to the proper person for clarification.
Dean: A middle-aged dentist with an ulcer is not exactly evil personified.
While this complaint was minor, and by no terms would I classify it as a crisis, if it had escalated – if local media had become involved, if more people had started questioning the venue’s business practices, then it could have turned into one very quickly.
That’s part of the power, and allure, of the internet. You know what they say about opinions – everyone has one. And the internet has given voice to every single one. It’s rare that I ignore a complaint (there was a drunken email that I didn’t respond to, and simply forwarded to management to handle), but even if I don’t personally respond, you can bet that I pass everything on to the appropriate person/channel. So far, I’ve been lucky that the worst comments – the complaints of employee misconduct and terrible service – have mainly been sent through private messages. Still, there are some negative reviews floating around that I keep an eye on, just in case.
People are going to vent, so it’s important to give them a place to go to do so, and its even better for it to be somewhere you can easily keep an eye on what’s being said. >> Penn State University used their Facebook wall as a pressure relief valve during the height of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, allowing hundreds of angry comments to be posted. << They didn’t respond to every post, but by opening up the venue to comments from the masses they showed that they wanted to hear what YOU had to say about what was going on.
Remember – no matter what anyone says, do not get into an argument online. We all know how bad that looks, and none of us want to be that person.
Read The 8 Steps to Manage a Social Media Crisis for more information on what to do when disaster strikes.