Community management is a must in today’s world of online connectivity. While there are numerous roles from listener to salesman, a manager must be a crisis expert. Risk management is physically practiced in business across the world and it must be online too.
Accidents happen, mistakes happen, sometimes we just come off wrong. With business and big brands, the power is in the hands of the consumer. If your product can break or have a fault, a customer will find it and talk about it online. Crisis and negative attention cannot be averted no matter how great the brand is. The most important role of a community manager is to practice crisis management. Everything from response time to response tone is vital.
The internet means there’s no privacy for big brands. If a customer is upset and publicly making their troubles be known, it might be a good idea to reach out to them privately but the issue must be addressed in the public atmosphere where it was brought up because no matter how the brand responds, the customer will share that as well.
Public apologies aren’t always needed; sometimes they’re far from what is needed. But public acknowledgement is a must. The two worst things a brand can do in a crisis are ignore the situation or delete it. We’ve seen the repercussions of ignoring the situation with “United Breaks Guitars.” We all learn in basic communication with our loved ones that ignoring a situation only makes things worse. United proved that. As a community manager of a crisis situation like United’s, it is devastating to ignore the situation. It says to the world that your brand doesn’t care what it does to its customers or how they feel.
Ignoring a crisis is devastating enough but removing the crisis altogether can have the same negative impact. Social media makes it relatively simply to report and remove something from the internet. If a brand’s image is deteriorating due to something posted on social media and they chose to have it removed a cycle will begin and spiral out of control. The original message will be reposted again and again along with the new negative action of the brand ignoring and removing public opinion. People want to be heard.
Social media has changed the business dynamic, giving the consumers power. As Likeable Social Media explains, the message from brands on social media needs to be about the customer, not the brand. Brands have to understand what their fans like and want to hear on social media. Social media is a personal space for most consumers and if a brand wants to be noticed they need to be personal too. The best way to do this is to respond to crisis. Groupon has created a credible but humorous personality for themselves by appropriately responding to their Banana Bunker crisis. Oreo took it a step further and responded to the NFL’s crisis during the Super Bowl. Both brand’s community managers brilliantly spoke to the personal side of millions of humans, and succeeded. People will always think of them as the brand that not only responded quickly, but with real words in a light-hearted, every day conversation feel.
Crisis happens, whether our own or someone else’s, created by us or the result of a customer’s bad experience, or even something completely irrelevant to your brand but shared within your community. The most productive and efficient thing a community manager can do is to prepare themselves for crisis and be ready to respond to their type of people. Crisis management is so important because, if handled correctly, it can significantly boost a brand’s reputation.