It was possible to douse local fires and the population halfway across the nation and the world wouldn’t even get a whiff of the smoke; Not anymore. Now, a smoke cloud on a remote island is known to all and talked about on blogs forever. Believe me, social media writers like me won’t let that one mistake you made die :) . Reputation comes slowly and like all the good things in life, can be lost in minutes and hours.

Our previous post on this topic discussed the most likely reputation battlefronts. So when the Dementors strike, how do you weave the Patronus charm to see the light of good reputation beyond the immediate crisis?

Look Before You Leap

That may be your response to the immediate stimulus: to fight back. An aggressive stance does help sometimes. After all, some do believe that attack is the best form of defense. Well, not always. Before you go all out on the networks countering whatever is flying you must get to the bottom of the claims that are being made against you. These questions will more or less help you define your social media strategy to manage the crisis.

When You are Right

I remember a couplet I read when I was kid from a book ‘Banish your Blues’ that said

‘If you are right; you don’t need to be angry, and

If you are wrong; you cannot afford to be angry’

Either way you need to take a balanced approach to the situation. Try to find out the truth. If you can prove that the accusations are baseless and false, use all the possible networks to put out this news. A business blog can be a very helpful tool to refute any false claims as it gives you space to discuss the issue at length. Use micro blogging platforms to get the news out and invite people for a discussion on your blog.

Moreover, all through your tense and lightning fast responses, never commit the mistake to attack the attacker. A large corporation or business attacking an individual creates more sympathy for the individual. To turn the tide, keep your focus on the issue and not the attacker.

When You Are in the Wrong

Accept you can go wrong. However, that doesn’t mean you just ignore what’s happening and let the crisis run its course. You still have to respond and contain the fire. So what can you do to control the situation, and perhaps even get out unscathed.

1. Engage and Explain

Issues surrounding certain policies and events can be seen as against a group or an individual. People turn to social media for specific reasons. Even if they take up a cause only to get attention, they will have to answer if you engage them and ask what they want. If it is about a policy, ask what parts they think need further consideration. If it is a customer issue, how do they think it can be best resolved now and for future occurrences, if any. Most people will understand the situation if you give them information and time; and if you are lucky, they might even start talk in your favor.

2. Redirect the Conversation

People are busy and they accept the point of view that is projected most widely and is discussed passionately. You can, of course, counter if you are right; but not everything is black and white. What if there is some truth to the discussed problem. Whatever it is, it cannot be bad a hundred percent. Provide a different perspective to the situation.

3. Overshadow

Doesn’t sound very diplomatic, right? But sometimes sheer force helps. You need to respond to social media crises with lightning speed or it can blow out of proportion very fast.

A statement from a senior executive always helps; however, people identify more with people in their peer group. Let your social media manager marshal a team of your brand’s advocates. In a highly volatile environment, people may find someone like them more trustworthy than a senior executive.

If a client starts a social media spat, ask other clients to support you. Similarly, support of other industry influencers whom you know well can give the required push to your credibility.

Summing Up

Conversations on social media networks are hardly contained, and you might find someone holding an old grudge chip-in during this free-for-all. Use your social media tools to dig out anyone who is talking in your favor and give them your full backing.

Reputation is fickle and must be defended at all times. A tried and tested response plan can prepare you for the unseen and help your team work as a well-oiled machine.