Crisis communications on Facebook: 3 tips to mitigate negativity

Social media execution is more of an art than a science. In my experience so far, brands have only really paid attention to their social media presence (or in most cases, lack of presence) when their brand reputation is at stake. One such case, I had a chance to observe closely was a retail company with poor customer service at its locations. And this was reflected online on the company’s Facebook page and retail review sites.

It’s unfair to expect social media to repair the brand reputation – especially when the reasons for it are rooted in corporate policies and business decisions. However, social media can help mitigate the negativity. In this post, I want to share a few tactics I’ve used to balance out negativity on a brand-owned Facebook fan page:

Take control over Content Programming: As much as the negativity on your Facebook brand page worries you, it is the first eight-ten posts (above the fold) that are most crucial in setting first impression with page visitors. Because Facebook wall refreshes quickly and rapidly with new wall-posts, the past comments and wall-posts don’t hold as much importance or weight as they do on a traditional ratings/ review sites like yelp.com or an tripadvisor.com.

Fueling positive content via status updates on a frequent basis to drown out the negativity. Create a content calendar that pushes out more brand-favored content and pushes down unfavorable comments. Direct conversation and tweak tonality towards positivity by celebrating the fans/ customers.

Set Facebook etiquette: Most brand pages are a kind of public forum, where the community is the boss. However, the page is still owned by the brand and it’s important for brands to remember that and set clear rules for community participation. I’m a huge proponent of Facebook Etiquette boxes that give brands the necessary protection to moderate or remove offensive posts.

(It goes without saying that this Etiquette box, does not give brands unbridled license to delete all negative comments!)

Response Strategy to negative comments: Respond to negative comments when it is an actionable issue. Always provide a direct line of access (phone number, email address) and sign off using real name. (Pref. a communications / corporate affairs personnel or customer service) Try to establish a response time-frame of 8-10 hours. Avoid responding too quickly to negative comments as it creates unrealistic expectations with the customers.

Hope this helps!

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