It’s rare, but not unheard of, for social media to backfire at the worst possible time and you’re facing the dreaded scourge of negative social media. Usually the worst possible time is when your company has a majority of its resources on site at a tradeshow. If most of your people are focused on doing demos, interacting with booth visitors and putting out a thousand little fires that seem to ignite during the show, the last thing you want is to have a blow-up on your social media platforms.
For example, let’s say you have a hot new product that is hotter than anticipated. You’ve even run out in the second day of the show and there’s no way you can fulfill demand.
Or maybe one of your employees opened their mouth to the wrong person and left a negative impression, strong enough for them to go out and tweet or post to their Facebook page.
In most cases, the negative comments usually won’t get too far, especially if you promptly respond and openly try to deal with any issues created.
But on occasion, depending on circumstances of the situation, those comments can get out of hand and go viral. So how do you prepare for such an eventuality, even if the odds are slim.
First, be aware – in a real time basis as much as possible – what’s being said about your company and products. This takes vigilance, and often means using some sort of tool that can monitor Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and others. Search for ‘social media monitoring tool’ and you’ll find plenty of good suggestions.
Second, be prepared for anything. Know how to get in front of a bad story. Be ready to respond appropriately – and make sure you respond as quickly as possible. Your Public Relations department should be ready to respond to that 3 AM call, and have the power to do so. Management has got to trust the PR department that they can craft a message that’s appropriate.
Third, don’t DO NOTHING. The worst thing is to sit on a story and wait for all departments to chime in. For instance, if you think that you need a legal opinion before responding to negative comments, chances are the story will entirely get away from you before you know it. Better to get a partial response out instead of no response at all.
Finally, don’t think that you’re immune because you have a product or service or a company that doesn’t lend itself to a firestorm of negativity. It CAN happen, and if you’ve at least talked about it and have some sort of plan in place, chances are you’ll be able to respond when needed.