Social Media Damage Control

Social Media PillowsCreative Commons: Flickr - Nan Palmaro

Social media can be an amazing tool to promote your brewery. It can also be a powerful tool to share information quickly to thousands of people and generally, when the information has a negative connotation, it travels at the speed of light.

We’ve all seen it happen – a disgruntled employee takes over a company’s twitter account and posts defamatory or otherwise negative content. The company, hopefully quickly, takes over control and apologies. Most will understand that the actions were not those of the company, but others will blame the company for allowing this to happen.

Then there are the comments an owner or senior employee makes personally that reflect that of a company. Recent news has one brewery owner trying to mitigate a boycott of their brewery due to a Facebook post on his personal account and as the privacy was set for “friends of friends”, his comments spread like wildfire.

There are countless examples of a brewery being called out on social media for sexist beer labels or names. And so on. What all of these examples have in common is the need to have a damage control plan in place and executed as quickly as possible.

Executing a strategy will be unique to the circumstances and severity of the incident, of course, but there are some steps one can take to try to reach out to their customers and supporters.

  1. Identify if this is really a crisis. Something that potentially has a material impact on your business is a crisis.
  2. Respond quickly with a consistent message.
  3. Acknowledge the incident.
  4. Respond in the medium that the incident was spread – e.g. if the incident was on Twitter, acknowledge there before posting on secondary platforms that the news was shared on.
  5. If there is a reason to apologize, do it, sincerely.
  6. Explain briefly how you are going to remedy the situation, if applicable and possible.
  7. Know when to take it off line. Some will not accept an apology or explanation and you will need to accept that. Engaging with your customers works until you are three to four replies deep as this is no longer a conversation, it’s an argument.
  8. And lastly, learn from the incident and move forward.

Social media, in some form or another, is here to stay and unfortunately, damage control is sometimes necessary. Being humble and sincere is essential if you expect your customers and followers to believe you made a mistake and are truly sorry for the actions.