Putting Out Facebook Fires – 3 Quick Tips

By Brittany Landenberger

Special to the eTail Blog

Recently, brands like Oreo have been faced with public outcries on their Facebook pages. On Monday, the Kraft Foods brand posted a status update with a rainbow-hued version of its cookie with the caption, “Proudly support love!” and “June 25/Pride.” The update got a big response from the brand’s 26 million fans. While thousands of positive responses took note on Oreo’s page, the negative posts were astounding. Many people were threatening to never buy Oreo’s again.

When a brand gains thousands and, in some cases, millions of friends, it’s an accomplishment to be proud of. But, what happens if your public suddenly revolts on social media? What should your organization do if you “make a mistake?” And how do you know if it was, in fact a mistake, or if the positive reactions outweighed the negative?

In the unlikely, unwelcome event of a Facebook crisis, take note:

1. Plan Ahead.
Planning is everything, as they (whoever they is) say. Establish a company-wide social media policy. Outline rules for responsible administration. Appoint a Social Media Manager, team, department, or hire appropriate talent to be proactive about promoting your brand and reactive toward customer service issues. Have these individuals monitor all actions taking place on your page daily, and make it clear who should get involved should a fast reaction be necessary. If your organization is being proactive and knows the strategy for combating an issue, you’re already a step ahead.

2. Act FAST!
The faster you respond with a thoughtful, strategic response on handling the issue, the faster your negative comments will be pushed further down on your wall and out of view. If it’s a large enough crisis, (like in Oreo’s case) millions of people are reading/hearing/tweeting about the issue, then you need to act quickly. Assess the damage, because you’re not going to change policies over complaints. But, by stating that you respect their opinion and loyalty in an immediate matter, you show customers that their comments have been received and understood. It’s not always necessary to have an answer to each negative post. However, it’s important that your fan base know your company will have a resolution to the matter at hand.

3. Respond Publicly.
The worst thing you can do with your Facebook fans is make them feel like they’re engaged in a one-way conversation. Always respond to individuals publicly on your page. A private response makes your organization look like it has something to hide. A fan made a public post on your Facebook page, and you should respond with a public post back. Brands need to understand what their fans’ expectations are and be prepared to deal with any problems that arise. When you respond publicly, thousands of fans see that it was addressed, and it demonstrates that you care about your customers and appreciate their loyalty.

By taking these three precautions, your organization will be able to effectively and efficiently manage a problem, if a Facebook crisis ever should arise.

Brittany Landenberger is a Marketing Strategist at StrongMail, a provider of email marketing solutions for online retailers and other types of businesses.