The online reputation is the opinion and image of a brand, product or company on social media. When evaluations and opinions are positive, they add up and are part of the business. The problem comes when we must manage negative information the speed of propagation in networks, can damage our image and lead us to have to manage a reputation crisis.
The reasons that can lead to a reputational crisis can be various, from rumors to hacking, from criticism of customers to employee behavior. In any case, incorporate branding, having a contingency plan manual will be essential and a starting point, since we will have guidelines, roles, managers and a personalized method, keeping improvisation away and avoiding wasting reaction time.
Ignoring or banning conflicting content is not a recommended option. Censorship generates antibodies in the digital world, leading to disappointment or anger in our virtual community. The veto or defensiveness will have negative consequences and, therefore, the attitude in response to these negative contents must be self-critical and assertive.
At this point, we make a special mention of the “trolls”, actors in social networks who are a big problem for brands and companies. In the face of a troll attack, our strategy should not feed them and will be the exception in the rule of giving a direct response.
On the other hand, what is the dimension of the “tragedy”? If we want to avoid and/or minimize the wear and tear on our online reputation, active listening and monitoring of conversations on social networks is the key. Social listening will help us detect, analyze, evaluate, and quantify the crisis and all its phases, as it will give us information on digital environments, government, stakeholders, scope, etc. Therefore, if we have a presence on social networks, let’s practice active listening.
Reputation is one of the assets of every business organization, but what happens when a reputation crisis? We are going to analyze these types of situations, their possible causes, and what we can do to resolve or minimize them.
Types of brand crises
The potential causes of a reputational crisis have the following typology:
Activity: linked to the production process or the provision of the service, object of our business.
Internal factors: refers to employees and facilities. Both are part of our corporate brand.
Market: In an environment of maximum competition, a competitor can undermine our reputation by comparison. Malpractice would also be included in this section.
First of all, don’t panic
A negative criticism in social networks is not a dish of good taste and should not be answered improvising, although there are three ideas that should guide us: speed, transparency and communication. Also being able to make a positive reading, diagnosing a problem to be solved, can offer us an opportunity for improvement.
There are professionals for these cases
The communication team must have competencies in digital reputation management. The professional in charge of the social media strategy will be able to contribute knowledge and guidelines to resolve this crisis, quickly and efficiently. Having a crisis plan is basic, as well as knowing how to implement it, under a joint strategy and a distribution of communication roles.
If you are on social networks, have social media professionals. They will be the ones who will be able to do data-based analysis, know your user community, and be able to optimally manage the reputation crisis, minimizing risks and damages.
What are we talking about?
You have to analyze and face the origin of the problem. In this sense, we will clearly differentiate whether it has an internal or external origin. If we have generated it, we must recognize the error, apologize as far as possible, and compensate for it.
Otherwise, if the cause is external and beyond our control, we must be quick. First, we need to collect as much data as possible, checking the veracity of the criticism. If the information is true, a solution must be provided. In the event that it is fake, we must defend ourselves from the lie and explain it. In certain circumstances, issuing an official statement is a good alternative.
We can stop
In the midst of a reputational crisis, we cannot continue with our communicative action as if nothing happened. If necessary, we would postpone planned actions to focus on solving the reputational problem. With this user community, with this decision, you will see that we are focused on it, committed to its solution.
Honesty and transparency
When we are facing a reputation crisis, and not only in these cases, truth and honesty are fundamental pillars. Vain excuses or escaping responsibilities is a big mistake that will have very negative consequences. It’s a big mistake that no brand can afford.
Our clients, followers, or users deserve personalized attention. In the event of a complaint, criticism or comment, we must give an individual response, as far as possible, with involvement and good customer service.
A crisis, an opportunity
A maxim is to learn from mistakes. No one needs a reputational crisis, but if it does come, we can learn from it in many ways. It will be a corporate communication experience. It can also allow us to rethink our customer service, some improvements in the production process, etc.
How to face and manage a reputation crisis will be the key to end it, even if you are reinforced, or contribute to increasing it.