The Three Rules Of Social Media Crisis Management

Part Of Jing Daily’s Coverage Of Social Media Matters, Hong Kong, Sep. 7, 2012

Customer complaints don't follow regular business hours

There is one rule of thumb to consider when taking your brand on a journey into the world of social media: If you’re not able to dedicate a portion of your company’s resources (be it in-house staff or the money to outsource) on social media management, don’t even bother. Why? Because social media can ruin your brand much more quickly than it can help build it.

Crisis management is the most critical pillar of a genuine social media strategy, and yet it remains the most overlooked by companies. As the founder of an online sales and marketing agency myself, I have been following three golden rules to maintain our reputation (and those of the brands that we promote) among consumers under any circumstances – that is, unless we really drop the ball!

The first thing to keep in mind is that social media requires constant monitoring, ideally 24/7 if you have a target market spanning across many time zones. Your customers don’t really care whether they’re voicing their discontent out of your office hours, and the longer you wait to give an appropriate response, the more impact this negative content could have on your brand image.

Yet any response is not a good response. If you don’t have a good one, being honest usually pays off. You may think your customers are acting unreasonably, but it’s extremely rare to receive completely unfounded criticism. In any case, you won’t get the last word. Customers are not fools either, and lying will only get you into more hot water later on. Being able to analyze what went wrong on your side, and to apologize (offering a compensation if you see fit), is the second step towards successful social media crisis management.

Cadillac has effectively used Sina Weibo for customer service in China

The third step — and probably the most difficult one — is to turn a social media crisis into an opportunity that will positively fuel your reputation. What’s more efficient from a communications perspective than turning a disgruntled customer into one of your best brand advocates?

The best way to do so, providing that steps one and two have been followed, is to keep the conversation — the process of resolving the issue — public, right on the platform where the negative comment originated. Dragging it behind the scenes (through private messages or emails) seems to be a safer bet, but this would also prevent you from showing your audience how much you value your customers and how well you treat them. (And that includes acknowledging mistakes, when you make them.)

After all, isn’t social media all about transparency?

Cedric Delzenne is the founder of Shop des Créateurs, the first online sales & marketing agency for emerging fashion designers, carefully handpicked around the world. With a top-notch e-commerce platform and genuine expertise in social media and PR, the Shop helps up-and-coming labels turn the Internet into a brand-building and revenue-generating tool. Currently supporting over 35 brands from Asia, Europe and the US, the Shop organizes or sponsors creative events and design competitions in Hong Kong and beyond.

(Opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Jing Daily editorial team.)


Marketing, Retail, Tech