Last week I wrote about the reputational repercussions of auto generated replies on social media. (To sum up, try to avoid them.) Since then, I’ve had some inquiring minds come back and say:
“But what about when our offices are closed? We use auto generated messages to reply to the comments we get during our office’s “off hours”.”
Good question. Simple answer.
How to respond to social media when your offices are closed
There is no such thing as “off hours” with social media. In fact, most organizations who have faced an online crisis of some sort will say that it originated during those evening, weekend or vacation hours when the appropriate people were not around to respond quickly. That said, there needs to be at least one member of your team who is responsible for monitoring, and yes replying, to social mentions, inquiries and red flags, 24.7.365 – and this means during your office’s “off hours” as well.
Remember: The sooner you respond to an online threat, the sooner you regain control and the less reputational damage your organization suffers.
That said, setting auto generated messages to reply to inquiries, comments, @mentions and others while no one is paying attention to your feed or platforms is extremely risky. The only thing I can imagine you saying in these auto generated replies that meets every possible comment or post scenario is something like those phone recordings we often hear when we call a company that is closed for the evening or weekend: “Our offices are currently closed. Thank you for your message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.” And this is simply not an option. Do this and it will become clear that your organization simply doesn’t “get” social media. Why? Because social media doesn’t close! It’s actually better to wait for someone to be in the office to respond then to send out some generic message to respond for you.
So, all in all, get rid of those auto generated replies and designate a member of your team who will be responsible for monitoring your brand’s online presence and social mentions 24.7.365. Make sure that this individual understands how to detect the red flags of a possible crisis or issue, and has the appropriate training and contact information to notify your crisis team if the situation needs to be escalated during your office’s “off hours”.
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.