Welcome to another Q&A Monday!
I recently received a very interesting question from a reader named Maj. Maj asked:
“The crisis that I’m trying to prepare my company for is end-users posting negative pictures on our FB-wall. In relation to this, it would be really interesting for me to hear how businesses, who are not in direct contact with the end-users, handle situations like this.”
This is a great question because images can be both very powerful and very scary.
We’ve all heard the expression “an image is worth a thousand words”, but today it goes even further. Today we can say “an image is worth a thousand words and shares in less than a thousand seconds.” Now that’s a scary truth when that image reflects something extremely negative towards your company or organization!
So what should you do if you find yourself under social media (and possibly even viral) heat due to an image posted by an angry customer or fan?
7 Ways To Handle Viral Images Posted By Unhappy Customers:
1- Be honest
If an image is posted and the issue is true (not a rumor or lie), then own up to the situation. It will do you no good to attempt to lie and cover it up – remember, an image is worth a thousand words!
Let’s use an example.
Let’s say that you’re a medical device producing company that sells their products via distributors to doctors and beauticians worldwide, and an end-user – which you do not have direct contact with – posts a nasty picture of a rash they got from using one of your products.
If the product they used had potential repercussions or side effects that your company (hopefully) knew about, and you’ve always been honest and forthright when it comes to labelling these side effects, then you can refer back to them when need-be. Be honest about the situation and most of all, be helpful and sincere in that honesty.
2- Be transparent
This includes not deleting pictures posted or published. Doing so will only infuriate already angry people even further and make a bad situation worse. Instead, have a plan and a response strategy ready and make sure the right people are monitoring and trained to respond properly.
3- Be sincere and sympathetic
This is a must-do in every type of social media issue and crisis. Trust me, a little sympathy and sincerity will go a very long way!
4- Fight fire with fire
Have impact-full pictures of your own already published, and more archived to be published when the time calls for it. If we use the same example as above, this may include pictures of happy customers with successful results, images of procedures for taking care of and treating unwanted side effects, etc. Visual images are powerful tools. Get creative and use them to your advantage – in and out of a crisis.
5- Be helpful and offer useful advice
When applicable refer customers, fans and the public to useful and helpful pages on your website, on other websites, on your social media channels and others. Be as helpful and resourceful as you possibly can. This goes hand-in-hand with being honest and sincere, and will paint your brand in a positive and helpful light.
6- Train the right people before the crisis happens
It’s important to train the appropriate staff, teams, suppliers, distributers and anyone else on how to handle issues before – and to prevent them from becoming – crises.
7- Be prepared
Do a risk analysis and define what a crisis and a potential crisis situation may look like. Identify the risks involved with your products, services, marketing campaigns, etc and develop:
- A crisis communications plan
- A social media issues communications (to prevent issues from becoming crises when possible)
- Holding statements for staff to refer to when responding to online issues and crises
- Guidelines for proper conduct by both your internal team and your customers and fans who interact with your brand online
Images are a powerful tool that can do wonders for your company or organization in terms of online marketing when they’re positive, and cause some serious havoc when they’re negative. It’s important to identify the types of risks your brand faces and to clearly define a communications plan that will guide you and your team through a worse case scenario.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.