When Businesses Pay the Price Over Social Media

jenny2What happens when a business makes a huge mistake in the “real” world and does nothing about it online? Well, over 80 comments of disgust on its last post over 90 days ago and over 150 comments written on the wall of a Facebook page, and that’s the the business’ own Facebook page. What have they done about it? Nothing. Not a single reply to any of the comments, not a single status of apologetic nature, hell, not even a reply to inquiries before this incident.

First I want to clarify that what this business did is highly discriminatory and catering to a social media account may not be its number one priority, but regardless of the case, these things need to be handled in a mature matter. That being said, the number one lesson from this post is to not screw up, at least to this extent. Had the business owner set aside their barbaric values of the 20th century, his or her business may not be in this situation.

Secondly, if you have any sort of social media accounts, be prepared to resolve the situation. Every business gets into hot water, be sure to have a crisis communication plan of how to address this issue in a more than timely manner. What should you do in a situation like this?

  • Address your followers before they address you. Don’t hide from the situation.
  • Apologize, address the comments individually, and make a public statement of intent on how you intend to fix it. 
  • Do this as fast as possible. It is more urgent than your cup of coffee in the morning.
  • Provide an outlet for discussion away from your social networks to further address questions – Email works great but respond to them all with your contingency.

When a social media account is left unattended, it can turn into an area where people will continually be let down or worse, a gathering point for common thoughts on your business. If you aren’t going to use it, lose it. Get rid of it. Go back to handwritten letters. If you are going to have it, respond to every valid question the best you can. The more you leave people hanging the more they are going to be upset with your business.

Take the time to educate yourself or the page administrators of your social networks. If you or an employee goes on to the account and starts defending the position of the business, it can make matters worse. Just keep calm and respond in ways that the upset viewers want to hear it. Even if it forces you to compromise.

Take away: The way the internet has enable us to connect online forces business owners to either be all in with their business or not to do it at all. The choice is yours.

UPDATE: The organization I am referring to has deleted their Facebook Page in regards to this situation. Fail.