The mistakes that brands and agencies make on social media have been talked about a lot. The problem here is not that agencies or brands lack something like a structure to deal with such mistakes; it is more to do with knowing what needs to be done in some unforeseen and undesired situations.
Social media is a place where the brands and services are most exposed to both appreciation and flak alike. The last thing one can do on social media is to remove negative comments on their pages and especially if you are a brand like Starbucks and have disgruntled customers talking about you. If there was a faulty service or a product, the best thing is to accept and promise to resolve. The agency executive or the social media manager may not know the exact reply but is there any person on the client side who may know it? It could be someone from the customer care team or the legal team or any other team who may be equipped to resolve the query in the most appropriate manner. We at our agency have created a simple process to seek the answers from the right people before going out there and replying! The key to resolving such issues is patience and the right intent.
On social media it’s more on the lines of ‘what you say is what you reap’. Brands like Star Sports had to bear the brunt of such unforeseen mistakes and they come as learning for all of us. As a brand or its representative, one has to pay utmost respect to the fan and then use appropriate words. The hatred on social media is very one sided and will remain that way, the love can be both sided at times.
What brands and agencies also need to understand is to imagine the kind of responses that a campaign can bring. The Volkswagen is a classic example of a campaign planning flaw that all agencies and brands need to learn from. All of us want the campaign to be interesting and viral but social is a very interactive medium and the messages you give out here are as important as the responses that you get.
As social media professionals we need to know that conspiracy not just over powers the news but is also a lot more difficult to decipher, leaving us far more exposed to it. Thus, there is a need to be ever more patient and ever more careful and being so gives a huge opportunity to leverage from any negativity that one may face. Moreover, the digital space is the new place for PR where brands can strategically send out the messages they wish to. It’s a place where one can think long term, help and engage with fans and thereby build on to the brand story.
All said and done, one cannot forget ‘what you say is what you shall reap’.