Yesterday morning (Monday) I received this email in my inbox from an individual who had written me on Friday:
Although this snarky email was apparently meant as a (unnecessary) joke (and followed by an even ruder email), it got me thinking about the threat of a social media attack: how they can be intimidating while opportunistic, and how companies and organizations should go about responding to such a situation.
The threat of a social media attack
The threat of a social media crisis, attack, or even just negative publicity, can be quite intimidating. Especially when you’re aware of what can happen: reputational damage, loss of control, negative virality, a negative impact on your bottom line and everything in between. Plus, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you’re even more aware of the repercussions and possibilities that a social media crisis or attack can have!
So what if someone threatens to attack your brand online? What if they threaten to tweet out a negativity, post an incident that will shine a negative light on your brand, or even publish a rumor? When thrown into this type of situation, what should your response strategy be?
Let’s take a look at the possible scenarios and their best response strategies
An unhappy customer threatens to post something negative about your brand online
Whether it’s a negative review or a complaint of some sort, you can consider yourself lucky! As I mention often, negative tweets or posts about your company or organization define a positive opportunity for your brand. They offer you the opportunity to respond to your unhappy customer and do your best to correct their unpleasantry and, in the best case scenario, turn that unhappy person into a life-long advocate for your company. (You can read more about how to go about doing that here)
That said, think of how opportunistic it would be to catch wind of an intention such as this privately rather than waking up to it on your Facebook timeline or in a tweet that’s already public. The same opportunity applies, only you get the chance to turn this unhappy customer into a happy one privately, without the rest of the world listening in!
Somebody threatens to expose a negative truth that you just know will trigger a crisis or attack
Consider yourself lucky that you got the opportunity to be enlightened to the situation before it went live – and potentially viral! If it’s something really bad, I wouldn’t recommend trying to do anything along the lines of bribery to intercept its release, since an exposure of such an attempt would simply take a bad situation and make it worse. However, this heads up does give you the opportunity to prepare for the likely event of a crisis, giving you a strategic edge!
Somebody threatens to go viral with a rumor
Once again you have luck on your side – in fact, you have luck on both your sides!
- First lucky side: You’ve been granted a warning to prepare and be ready for.
- Second lucky side: Rumors are based on untruths and the truth will usually set you free!
Somebody sends you an empty threat in a joking tone with underlying innuendo
Sound familiar? It sure does to me! Unfortunately, some people either have a weird sense of humour or are simply miserable people who enjoy negativity. Either way, when you experience something like this, it’s not worth it to fight back or even worry. Haters will hate and you can’t please everyone – nor should you try. The best thing you can do in this type of situation is choose whether to respond without further instigating or simply leave it be. If you do your social job right and focus on building real and true relationships, than you have nothing to worry about! You have a solid, supportive network of loyal fans and friends who will come to your defence when those unhappy people attack your brand without just cause. And those fabulous fans and followers are the only ones worth your time and energy!
So there you have it!
A reason to not feel so threatened when threatened – and many reasons why to see such a threat as a unique opportunity!
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.