By now, you’ve probably (hopefully) learned that arguing with strangers on the internet isn’t the best use of time. But what if your job involves responding to strangers on a daily basis?
For social media community managers, an average day may include planning upcoming campaigns, scheduling posts on social channels, and replying to people who mention the brand handle. Unfortunately, not all of those mentions are positive, and negative posts can quickly spiral into a crisis without proper attention.
Nobody looks forward to a social media crisis, but with the right mindset, it can be effectively managed. We recently held a #SprinklrChat on Twitter discussing ways to manage a social media crisis. Here are the top three tips gleaned from the conversation:
When a social media crisis strikes, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose your cool. Taking a deep breath (or two or three) allows you to step back and reassess the situation from a fresh, calm perspective.
A7: Breathe! If you panic, there’s a possibility you miss key listening insights or not reply when needed. You don’t need to be totally zen and act like nothing is wrong, but focus on what is important, ask for help if needed, and don’t create more alarm. #SprinklrChat https://t.co/8wBpHfpiao
— Katelyn Brower 🌟 (@BrowerKDnB) November 8, 2018
Q1: Take a deep breath, assess the complaint, see what went wrong, approach managers to see what we can do to rectify the situation. And be nice to the original poster 🙂 #SprinklrChat pic.twitter.com/Sjd7JOwLG8
— Rebecca Benison (@rbenison89) November 8, 2018
Once you’ve reached a moment of relative zen, you can formulate a helpful response. Even if it feels like you’re being yelled at through the computer screen, respond with patience and kindness to turn things around. A calm, supportive demeanor is often all it takes to shift the tone of the conversation.
A2: I'm a big believer in "Kill them with kindness." I've gone through many situations where after you've helped someone on social media, they're quick to thank you, and sometimes, even apologize for losing their cool.#SprinklrChat
— Syed Ali (@West_Syed) November 8, 2018
A2: Remember we're all humans, and we all want to be heard and respected. I take a moment and remember to keep focus, listen, and not let all the negativity weigh me down. #SprinklrChat pic.twitter.com/KibJyezuJx
— Chelsea Bennington (@chelsbennington) November 8, 2018
You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what the problem is to begin with. Many of the social media practitioners in our #SprinklrChat cited the importance of listening to complaints fully before engaging. Get the whole story, and ask for more details if you need help understanding the situation.
A1: Here's my plan of action in a few words- 1) Listen 2) be empathetic 3) Give a solution 4) Change sentiment 😊 #Sprinklrchat
— Canon Christine (@CanonChristine_) November 8, 2018
Learning the full story –
1. Crisis Credibility: What is the situation and is it valid?
2. User Status: Who is the commenter? Social troller 🙃 vs customer/employee
3. Recuperation/Response time: What can we need to do to turn this around today?#SprinklrChat
— Sadae D. Williams (@sadaeondigital) November 8, 2018
Seeing the full picture will allow you to craft a response that is not only helpful, but genuine. There will be times when you simply don’t have good news to deliver, and that’s okay. Present the facts clearly and honestly to avoid further frustrations.
A2: Your brand doesn’t always have to be happy-go-lucky and spewing out rainbows in messaging, you just need to speak the truth and remain true to your brand values and voice. #SprinklrChat https://t.co/Z5KM0cCABS
— Katelyn Brower 🌟 (@BrowerKDnB) November 8, 2018
With 60% of Twitter users expecting brands to respond to their tweets within an hour, it’s important for community managers to be timely with replies.
A7: Be over-transparent and true to your word- if you said you'd reply in 5 minutes then reply even if it's just to say that you're waiting for an answer. Also respect that what may seem like a little issue to you is a massive issue to the person on the other end. #sprinklrchat
— Suzi McCarthy (@suzimcc) November 8, 2018
Even if you don’t have an answer ready, let followers know that you’ve seen their posts and are working to find a solution. To speed up the process, loop in other employees who may be able to help solve the issues at hand. Your manager may know the best person to follow up with, and can help figure out a reply in the meantime. Don’t make things harder by keeping problems to yourself.
Truth! It's so important to alert executives/senior leaders early. If they need to be involved later on, they'll already be in the know for any further approvals/actions. #SprinklrChat
— Dasle Kim (@daslekim) November 8, 2018
It’s impossible to predict when a crisis will occur, but with the right strategy in place, social media community managers can identify negative sentiment through social listening to turn things around before they get worse.
As a community manager, remember that how you respond to criticism sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. Never respond in anger or haste. While it’s important to be timely, it’s even more important to remain calm, open, and helpful.
Breathe, listen, and respond.
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