This can be tricky for businesses and organizations. It’s rare to find a brand that hasn’t encountered some kind of social media controversy in recent years—like the time that Red Cross employee confused her personal account with the organization’s, then tweeted to the world about getting hammered on Dogfish Head beer.
We’re still laughing about it and that was way back in 2011. What you may not remember was how Dogfish Head Brewery used the gaff to encourage their followers to give to the American Red Cross, thus earning the Classiest-Brand-Ever-Caught-in-the-Crossfire award.
The point here isn’t to dredge up old Twitter follies, but to remind you that there’s always a way out when your brand goofs up or is targeted by trolls. Here are some tips for navigating the darkness under the bridge, or better yet, avoiding it altogether.
1. Don’t Be Deaf to Tragedy
Your mom was right. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all, especially during a time of crisis. When there’s an ambulance behind you, you pull to the side of the road. It’s the same with social media. If the top news story of the day involves a disaster, hit the brakes on regularly scheduled posts, e-blasts and other points of contact. It’s better to be silently respectful while the crisis passes than risk coming across as insincere with hollow well-wishes or tone deaf regular content.
2. Consider the Context
Lots of online movements begin with inspiring videos or pithy hashtags. But if you’re going to hop on the now-trending bandwagon, make sure you know where the wagon is headed. Hashtags can be deceptive, headlines don’t tell the whole story, and what’s trending on Facebook is often satire masquerading as serious news. To avoid looking silly or stirring the ire of the masses, take a few minutes to investigate the hot new trend, instead of going for an easy boost and latching onto a movement or idea that doesn’t serve your brand. Basically, all we’re saying is that a quick Google search can prevent you from accidentally propositioning your entire Twitter following.
3. Monitor Your Shit
The internet doesn’t take weekends off, so it’s crucial to have a dedicated team member who checks your social media accounts daily. Don’t let political debates rage or threatening posts fester while you go apple picking on a Sunday afternoon, or you could end up walking into an angry orchard on Monday morning.
4. Know When to Speak Up
While it’s pointless to entertain every troll who wants your attention, or get entangled in online political debates, it is important to know when you should step in.
When pedestrian disagreements cross the line into threatening or hate-filled messages, you have to shut it down. Delete hateful comments, report threatening users and keep your audience updated on how you’re handling the situation. The people who follow your social channels comprise your community. It’s your responsibility to keep it as safe and inclusive as possible.
5. Don’t Forget to Fix It
When you make a mistake—and everyone does—the best thing to do is handle it the like you would in real life: Take ownership, provide a transparent explanation and make a genuine apology. The worst thing you can do is ignore it or try to sweep it under the rug. You’ll be surprised how much people are willing to forgive if you’re honest about what happened.
The internet is a vast, beautiful, ridiculous place to hang your shingle, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the dos and don’ts of social media etiquette. If your business or organization can’t take OOHology with you into the fray, then research, establish policies and assign responsibilities within your team. If you need some guidance, drop us a line. We’ll meet you at the bridge.