Brand Management: How to Respond to an Online-Reputation Crisis
When it comes to managing an online-reputation crisis, remember this adage: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But if you're in the middle of a crisis that could damage your brand, warnings don't work — you need to take action.
No matter what your situation, you will always do well to consider the following:
Spot the issue as early as possible via monitoring. Respond to people in real time as much as possible. Never leave people hanging for long, or else they will tend to share more emotionally. This is how issues escalate.
Be transparent via your brand. If there's a problem admit to it, apologize graciously, and tell what's being done to address the problem.
Keep people up to date. As new developments arise, let people know online.
Talk to your friends. During a crisis it's really effective to reach out to your brand ambassadors, as is appropriate. Don't impose on them, but if you happen to communicate with some during the crisis be sure to let them know what's going on and how much you would appreciate them being the first to share the news with their audiences online.
Reach out to industry leaders. If you have a relationship with a few industry leaders and the situation calls for it, don't be shy. Remember that your situation may well garner attention for those leaders' own blogs as they stand up for yours.
Turn lemons into lemonade. At every chance, look for opportunities to learn and improve from feedback.
Sort through the silly comments. All comments are not the same in terms of how important they are to your reputation online. Research your key commenters to see what kind of online influence they have. If they don't have much and their comments are out of touch, then either gently respond once or ignore.
Don't feed the fire. Appeasing a troublemaker or troll only makes them bolder. Set healthy boundaries for what your brand will and won't do in order to make people happy and stick by them where at all possible.
Reward your awesome team afterward. Managing a crisis online is emotionally and physically draining work. Publicly recognize your team for their brilliance and loyalty after the crisis is over and show them how much you genuinely appreciate them.