Friday, March 15, 2013

Digital Crisis Management

It has been said that “if a customer has a positive experience with a company, they’ll tell 3 people. But if they have a negative experience, they’ll tell 10”. There’s no doubt that negative feedback can spread like wildfire. That’s why it is essential you have a digital crisis management strategy prepared in case social damage control is needed.

What is Digital Crisis Management?

Digital crisis management is the act taken by an organization to control situations where negative publicity in the digital space spreads across multiple people and multiple channels. The moment a couple of negative comments evolve into a stream of heated discussions or spread to various social media channels, you have a crisis at hand. A digital crisis can also occur if negative information has been published online and has gone viral resulting in customers questioning your integrity. Digital crisis management involves the process of bringing the crisis under control to minimize its impact on your company’s brand.

How to Establish a Digital Crisis Management Strategy?

Monitor at all times.
Be sure to monitor your brand 24/7. In the previous section, we talked about how to monitor your brand. On the following page, you will find a list of monitoring tools. Take advantage of them. You need to know what people are saying about your brand in order to react.

Establish a streamlined process.
Be sure to have a streamlined process and team in place to react to the crisis. Appoint a “digital crisis management team”. You may opt for some of your most trusted employees who are willing to work diligently to supervise and manage any social media issues 24/7.

Respond immediately.
When responding to a crisis, you need to respond quickly –in a matter of hours, not days. Wherever there is a lack of response or an information void, they will often fill those gaps with their own thoughts and opinions, which could potentially hurt your brand. You can't just ignore the social chatter. Respond to issues quickly, even if your answer is “We’re looking into it”.

Keep your messaging consistent.
One negative conversation about a specific topic could potentially lead to other discussions around similar issues. Therefore, as you respond to the negative feedback, it is vital that your messaging is consistent every time. The last thing you want to do is dispute your credibility by sending mixed messages.

Educate your employees.
As mentioned earlier, your employees must understand that company loyalty extends to all forms of communication, both inside and outside the workplace. Therefore, you must ensure that they understand your corporate positioning on the issues that arise. If your positioning changes, inform your employees prior to informing the public.

Be transparent.
At this point, there are no secrets. Don’t attempt to hide anything from the public. Transparency is key. Own up to any service failures and inform your customers of how you plan on addressing the issues at hand.

Listen to your audience’s response to your response.
Listen, respond, act. Then listen again.This will help you plan your next step. Your audience will make it clear if more details are needed.

Be prepared for a two-way dialogue.
As you participate in the discussions and give an update regarding the issue, get ready to receive their responses. Social media is about real-time conversations, and inviting customers into a conversation is an effective way to build goodwill.

Follow up frequently.
Provide status updates on the discussion forums, social networks and your company homepage on a regular basis until the issue is resolved. Don’t keep saying “we are working on it” and never inform your audience about the modifications.Consider releasing a video update to deliver a human message to your audience.

Reach out to your brand representatives.
It might be a good idea to ask a few of your loyal customers to respond to an issue. This often offers more credibility than just giving a response from your company. However, be sure their messages are truly authentic and that they too are consistent with your company’s messaging.

Reputation management is not only about monitoring; it’s about taking action. Online reputation management is critical because a bad reputation can be very costly to your business.