Companies’ social presences, be they on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or elsewhere, are quickly becoming primary targets for activist organizations. Of course this is not to say the days of the old ”hey-hey ho-ho” chants, signed petitions, and pickets are over, but there is a definite rise in activist activity on the Internet and organizations need to be prepared to address and respond to these instances when they occur. This post provides five tips on how to respond to an activist attack on your brand or company social media presences.
1. Create a Response Plan
There is no way around it: every organization will have a bad day in social media. Irrespective of how well your organization is run or how loved your brand is, there will no doubt be a time when something is done that will upset people. The first step of any social media activism response is to proactively create a response plan. Prepare for all potential issues that could occur ahead of time and create responses for those suitable for a variety of social platforms. Create a comment traffic system and escalation procedures across all social presences so that negative comments are quickly escalated to the PR and corporate affairs team, where additional escalation can be made quickly.
2. Investigate the Source of the Activity and Engage
Identify the source or sources that are convincing people to come to your social presence and engage with them directly. Your engagement efforts with the activist influencers will be more effective than engaging with every single individual on the page. This engagement will be welcome and shows a willingness to address activists’ concerns. Change.org is an example of a site dedicated to building a movement against brands and organizations online. Change.org has representatives all over the world and in the past has been open to correcting misinformation posted on its site and communicating to its members quickly once changes have been made by an organization it is targeting.
3. Don’t Stick Your Head in the Sand
Be transparent with your community through the channels on which protestors are attacking you. If activists showed up outside one of your store fronts or at your headquarters, you would take their concerns seriously. Your social presences are in most cases much more visible than any given storefront or office block. Take protestors’ comments seriously and make commitments to investigate their concerns and provide more information.
4. Be Timely
An hour is a long time in the social media world. Get responses and information to your community as quickly as possible. Delayed silence will suggest you are trying to spin the situation. Make use of holding statements where an instant answer is not possible. Confirm you are investigating further and make commitments on when the community can expect an update.
5. Listen and Respond
There is no magic number of negative comments that denotes when a company should change its policy, but any considerable number of negative comments should be taken seriously. Comments on Facebook and other social presences are like a barometer on your customers’ feelings towards your brand and products. Only a fool doesn’t listen to their customers.
Do you have any other tips you would add? Do you agree with what I have listed?
Image credit: gaelx