Managing your Social Media Communities may seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you may think!
Here’s 6 easy steps to help you foster a positive experience for your community members while protecting their rights and freedoms as well as your brands reputation.
When posting and engaging with your audience, please keep in mind the following and respond:
Promptly is no.1 as failing to say something in a reasonable time frame can often be more damaging, as demonstrated by the HOYTS “Rat incident” in 2012.
Case in Point:
On April 1st, A photo and video was posted to the Hoyts cinema Australia Facebook Page – these images were of a rat eating the patron’s snacks as they were watching a movie.
As you can imagine questions spread like the plague: was it an April fool’s prank? It looks real – is it real?
It took Hoyts 18 hours to respond to the post. In the meantime it racked up over 3,000 likes, 4,000 shares and more than 2,300 comments on this post alone.
What compounded the negative commentary was the fact that Hoyts were actively responding to rat-free comments and questions and so were obviously aware of the post but doing nothing about it.
It didn’t matter that the team would have been in crisis mode on the ground – their social networks wanted to know what was going on and what was being done about it?
By the time they responded to the actual post it was too late. It had spawned 1000s of new posts, pictures, memes and comments many referring to their personal encounters with vermin at other Hoyts cinemas around the country.
Some even shared their stories of being treated poorly by staff when they complained about the infestation and others simply expressed their discussed, demanded refunds of their vouchers and pre-paid tickets and vowed never to return again.
Respond to questions and comments transparently on the same platform on which they are made. Acknowledge a detractor’s complaint and then politely encourage people to send feedback through dedicated channels i.e. direct messaging.
If the conversation continues, either from the original detractor or now from multiple, address each and everyone’s concerns, within reason. You may have to address reoccurring complaints in bulk as a quick response, but when time allows, contact each and everyone who contributed to the conversation.
Don’t forget to thank those who have supported you through this period. Your brand defenders are worth their weight in gold!
- You’re listening
- You’re doing something about it
- You’ll continue to update the community once you have more information
- Thank everyone for their patience and understanding
Don’t victimize detractors – the exception to this rule can be “outing” a troll.
Always consider the nuances of the language that you use in your posts. Sometimes even the most well-intentioned messages can take on a different meaning. Be respectful of your audience. Never use derogatory or offensive language, and be quick to apologize if you’ve made a mistake.
Case in point:
Ahead of the American national holiday held each January in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, the Marine Corps Special Operation Command sent a message across both Twitter and Facebook in which a gunman in full military assault rig is seen aiming his weapon out of an open window.
“Don’t be lone shooter #MLK weekend!” the message read. “[M]ake sure you’ve got security — stay safe!”
Dr. King was assassinated by a sniper on April 4, 1968, and his death sparked a series of violent riots across the US amid heightened race relations in major cities around America. James Earl Ray was ultimately convicted of murdering Dr. King, and authorities say he shot the civil rights leader through the bathroom window of a boarding house, not unlike the one in the image shared by the Marine Corps. over the internet.
As expected, the MARSOC tweet and Facebook post quickly caused uproar across all realms of social media and the armed forces deleted the offensive posts within minutes. The United States Marine Corps was forced to apologize.
“Marines leaders will frequently take the opportunity to remind their personnel to make wise decisions and look out for each other especially before a long holiday weekend. The intent of our recent post was to remind personnel to partner up when going out over the weekend and to look out for each other using military jargon.
When we were alerted to the potential that this military post could be viewed as insensitive or offensive when combined with the historical facts concerning Martin Luther King Jr., we immediately took it down and apologize for any untended disrespect or misperceptions.
Commanders and Marines everywhere are being encouraged this weekend to reflect on Dr. King’s work and the principles he upheld. Martin Luther King day empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers and moves everyone closer to realizing Dr. King’s visions — we are proud to remember Dr. King’s life, sacrifices and accomplishments.”
Wherever applicable, respond in a way that can lighten the mood without degrading the seriousness of the issues concerned.
WARNING: while humour can assist a situation, it may not always be appropriate.
Case in point:
A member of the public asked a question of the Australian 2011 Census’ Twitter account.
Escalate the issue to the most appropriate department and person. Show your community that real (and the right) people are trying to fix the problem. If a primary authoritative source does issue information, clearly attribute it to them.
If you don’t know the answer to a question/problem, don’t pretend you do (that goes for the technical experts as well!). Only respond to comments and questions with accurate, helpful information.
Ensure your experts don’t use technical jargon.
Don’t prioritize speed over accuracy of information.
Regurgitating a preconcieved, impersonal script will only infuriate detractors more and will not win any supporters to your cause. Get personal, use people’s names (@handles) and use similar wording on the same platform as the original message.
Be prepared for more than one comment or response and don’t just keep repeating the same message. Adjust the wording (particularly for your scheduled messages), reminding the community there is a human on the other end of the conversation, not an automated messaging system.
Case in Point:
I personally have been a victim of poor community management. I had been on hold for 45mins with Qantas Platinum Member’s priority line. I was trying to speak with someone about changing my flights, as my oldest friend’s water has broken as she was driving me to the airport to catch my scheduled flight. We had to make a unplanned detour to the hospital and so, in order to be with my friend until her husband or baby arrived (whoever got there first), I tried to reschedule my flight. But since no one had anserwed and the Qantas website was so user-unfriendly, I had to leave to catch my plane.
I Tweeted my dissappointment @QantasAirways.
I received a response form them, it was prompt, but devoid of any human intelligence or feeling. They told me to fill out a complaint form and included a link.
That just made me complain via Twitter more, where I was from then on ignored.
I’m one of the flying Kangaroo’s biggest fans but given their track record I don’t know why I expected anything more from their Twitter Community Managers.
Brands should know that their customer service is enhanced by social media (if they do it correctly) rather than hindered. Treat your online audience as you would in person. Brand’s values are front and centre on social media and their reputations are on the line, after all, it’s no longer just a case of “word-of-mouth” it’s “world-of-mouth”.
Please don’t tell your complainant to “fill out a form”. Let them know you’re listening to their concerns through social media but would like them to share more details and therefore use more direct channels.
Applying the 7 pillars to your campaigns and social media initiatives in general, means that you build your reputation as a brand that cares about its community – that you’re not just using your platforms as a one-way marketing channel, but actually inviting engagement and ultimately buy-in from your audience rather than just expecting a “set-and-forget” approach to reap the rewards social media offers.