Thanks to social media’s growth in both prevalence and influence, we are essentially living in one giant global high school—news, rumours and opinions travel almost instantly across multiple platforms and touch points, which, if not properly managed, can wreak havoc on a brand’s reputation.
This begs the question, what kind of social media jujitsu do you need to know to turn the force of your attackers against them and save face? Like any fight, there are a wide variety of different strategies and things to pay attention to. Let’s talk about a few. And so this doesn’t read like a W3 tutorial, let’s relate them to some of cinema’s greatest pugilists.
1. Look around, you never know what’s coming.
Example: Raiders of the Lost Ark – Big German vs. Indiana Jones
As our big German friend learned, you always have to keep your head on the swivel otherwise you risk being blind-sided and, in his case, reduced to marinara by a wayward propeller. It’s important that you always keep an ear to the digital streets to hear what customers are saying—good and bad. Searching your business or its hashtag on Google will give you a basic idea of what’s going on, but a monitoring platform like Spredfast, HootSuite or Google Reader will let you tune in to the whole picture. If you aren’t listening, you can’t be part of the conversation.
2. Silence is deadly.
Example: Saving private Ryan – German Soldier vs. Private Stanley Mellish vs. Corporal Upham
Everyone remembers this scene from Saving Private Ryan—the German Soldier over powers Private Mellish and slowly stabs him as the cowardly translator, Corporal Upham, stands idly by. Silence will hurt you. When your brand is being attacked—for good reason or not—you need to be there to stand up for it. Refusing to enter the fray with a response gives your critics control and demonstrates your detachment and indifference towards your customers. If someone is criticizing your brand or service, you need to address it, show your concern and try to solve it. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Be swift.
Example: The Bourne Identity – Jason Bourne vs. whoever has the misfortune of being in his way
Whether it’s park rangers or CIA assassins, Jason Bourne neutralizes threats with the speed and agility of a cornered panther. The same goes for responding to criticism in social platforms. The longer you wait, the longer the criticism is out there for people to see—and more importantly for them to see that you haven’t done anything about it. Whether it’s an apology, a solution or simply recognizing that there’s an issue to be resolved, your side of the story needs to be there stat.
Example: The Princess Bride – Inigo Montoya vs. the Man in Black
Though these sword-wielding savants are locked in a fight to the death, they extend each other every possible courtesy in what is the most polite and gentlemanly fight in history. When responding to attacks or criticisms of your products or brand, it’s essential to respect your customer’s right to an opinion. While it can be tough not to take it personally—especially if you’re a small business—it’s just business and needs to be responded to accordingly. Don’t see it as a calamity; see it as an opportunity to improve your business or to educate the world on the benefits of your brand.
5. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Example: Evil Dead 2 – Ash vs. His Right Hand
Ice Cube said it best, but Evil Dead 2 showed it best. Ash’s possessed hand takes a brutal toll on him before he takes matter into his other hand. Sometimes you are your own worst enemy. Or in the case of social media, sometimes people within your own company, or working on behalf of it, do the most damage. Chrysler recently learned this the hard way with an f-bomb dropped on their official Twitter account. It’s important that a brand have definitive guidelines for social media content and interaction and that anyone responsible for creating content knows them. It doesn’t have to be a 300 page meditation on the topic, just a short, straightforward document that lays out the goals, voice, do’s and do not’s of your social media presence.
There you have it. Go forth and Facebook, Tweet, blog and comment with confidence. Or post criticism below that I will swiftly and respectfully respond to according to the clearly established guidelines in the ZGM Social Media Handbook.