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Most people think that social media for business means nothing but marketing.  But social media can play a crucial role in another area: reputation management.  While it’s not pleasant to think about, your business might find itself in the midst of bad press.  If you should ever find yourself in a defensive position, it is not the time to shy away social media.

Most people think that social media for business means nothing but marketing.  But social media can play a crucial role in another area: reputation management.  While it’s not pleasant to think about, your business might find itself in the midst of bad press.  If you should ever find yourself in a defensive position, it is not the time to shy away social media.  It’s time to turn your social media presence into the ultimate defense of your business!  Here are some ways to do it!
 
1. Be Proactive
 
Assuming that you don’t have to discuss things with a lawyer or publicist first, then your first goal is to be proactive about the negative press.  Don’t just pretend it doesn’t exist – address it!  If your business is being slammed for making a particular decision, either stand up for it or admit you were wrong.  If your business is getting negative response to changing a long-time favorite product, show that you are empathetic with people’s feedback.  

Think about your Facebook wall.  If there is something bad in the press about your business, and you address it by making a status update, most people who want to discuss the issue will do so in the comments for that particular update.  If you don’t say anything, they might start randomly posting to your wall, so instead of one post about the problem, you could end up with dozens or even hundreds, based on the popularity of your page.  

One great example of proactive thinking on social media was from Codero, a web hosting company.  In 2010, their servers went down, causing thousands of clients’ websites to go down as well.  This is something that would go noticed regardless, so instead of sticking their head in the sand, Codero issued a video on their YouTube channel explaining the power outage and what was being done to fix it.

They then shared this video on their other social media accounts so that people coming to check on their social networks would see that they are well aware of the issue and working on it.  While it doesn’t solve the problem or soothe all of the anger, it showed that the company cared enough to be up front and keep the lines of communication open with their customers.

2. Respond to Everyone, Everywhere Possible

Depending on your company’s size and resources, this may or may not be possible.  But if you can, respond to as many people as possible on as many platforms as possible.  This simply means…

  • If you have a Facebook page, watch your notifications carefully and comment back to those who are adding updates / comments to your wall.  
  • If you have a Twitter account, monitor any mentions of your @username or your brand name using Twitter search or a stream in your Twitter management app.  Respond to people using their @username.
  • If you have a Google+ page, watch for comments on your proactive update about the situation or comments on other posts to your page and respond to them.
  • If you have a blog, approve and respond to comments individually.
  • If you have a YouTube channel, keep an eye out for new comments on your videos and the channel itself.


3. Try to Turn Search Results in Your Favor

When someone searches for your business, they are going to get a mixture of well established online properties for your business (your website & social profiles) as well as some more current results such as status updates from social sites (Google+ and Twitter in particular), blog posts, and news stories.  For example, you can see what Groupon has to contend with in search results after their website, Wikipedia page, and Twitter account.

So what does Groupon need to do to fight these things off of the first page of search results?  Counter with positive content, of course.  Some things they could try include the following.

  • Create a blog post on their own website about the bad press and encourage social sharing, especially on Google+ as Google search tends to pick up updates from Google+ more often.
  • Offer interviews / guest posts to major industry sites to talk about the bad press they are receiving.
  • Publish some press releases that counter the bad press and make sure they get shared on social media as much as possible.

Bonus Tip: Where SocialToaster Comes In

The thing you need most when bad press strikes is someone in social media on your side.  With SocialToaster, you will have your army of ambassadors who will hopefully be ready to help you fight your way to a clean reputation again by sharing your response to bad press and helping you push your content for more positive buzz.  So don’t wait – start building your ambassadors today just in case you need them tomorrow!