What should ideally be the response of online brands when disaster strikes? By disasters, we are not talking here about natural calamities or bombing attacks! We are referring to disasters and blunders committed by brands in functioning or in dealing with situations. There will be times when crap hits the fan and you have to duck for cover! Thanks to the internet, every one of your consumers has got an individual voice. They can join their voices in a raucous chorus as well through social media networks.
In such situations, how advisable it is to completely shut down the bridges of communication? Responses in online reputation management have differed from deleting the Twitter or Facebook account or brand spokespersons going on the offensive! You can pick any of the options between these two extremes, if you feel like. But online reputation management experts suggest that you do neither and look at the bigger picture. That will help you come out of the situation your brand is in with flying colours, to borrow a cliché.
The first thing you have to do is find out the cause of complaint. Was there a genuine mistake committed? If the answer is yes, admit to it and apologize to those inconvenienced. That usually resolves the issue because your consumers have a thousand other things to do! They would be happy to get it done with and move on. On the contrary, if you feel that there was no error as such on your part but a misunderstanding or miscommunication, you can get your spokespersons on the same online forums and explain the situation to angry netizens.
The third possibility is more likely to happen for most brands: angry rants by online users that do not have any real ground. Such posts are usually made by bored users or simply nasty consumers owing their allegiance to competing brands. This is where the situation becomes a little dicey. You wouldn’t want to dignify such posts with a response and at the same time, keeping quiet will allow the issue to simmer and boil over. These cases need to be dealt according to the merits of each one of them. There is no blanket rule as such. But whatever you do, do not close down the lines of communication!