Recovering From A Negative Social Media Post

Good morning, internet fans! Ryan Perry, Simple Biz Support. Today is Wednesday August 5th, therefore it is internet… Actually it’s Social Media Wednesday, and as usual I have Sarah Giometti with Provaro Marketing on the other side. Good morning, Sarah!

Sarah Giometti: Good morning Ryan, how are you?

RP: I’m doing fabulous, thank you! It’s hard to believe we’re already rolling into August, which means December will be here, which means 2016 is going to be here tomorrow, I guess.

SG: Way too fast, this has just blown by. Although, we are a month away from playoffs for baseball, so that’s the plus for the time going so fast.

RP: That is true, and hopefully those Dodgers can hold on to first place and keep marching forward through October.

SG: That would be a great plan, but they have to remember how to hit in more games than not, unlike the rest of the season.

RP: Yeah, that is true. Today though, we’re going to talk about what happens, or do you have a plan if this happens, should your social media account, A, be hacked and maybe there’s some disparaging remarks, or an employee posts something that’s possibly inappropriate, or worst case is you’ve actually outsourced your social media to an agency and they’ve posted something that maybe people find derogatory or offensive, but it really sheds a negative light, the big question then becomes, how do you react to that situation?

SG: Right, most small businesses don’t have a strategy in place to deal with a negative post that happens, that could, you’re right, shine a negative light on the business, it was an inappropriate post that should not have been made in the first place, or if you’re hacked. Most businesses don’t have a plan in place. And so there is two parts to this episode, one, how do you handle this if it happens? Two, how do you put a strategy in place to try and prevent this from happening in the future? So, if this has already happened to you and you don’t have a plan, here are steps how to negate it. And, if this has never happened to you, this might be a great opportunity to sit down and put a plan in place to try and prevent this from ever happening to your business.

RP: Right, and I think one of the key things that people can take away right now, that you brought up before the show, was the fact that on Twitter, if your password is ‘password’ they will not allow you to delete a hacked post, is that correct?

SG: Correct. So, if somebody hacks your account and your account password is ‘password,’ basically Twitter is saying your password was not secure enough because it’s a terrible choice of a password, it’s just ‘password,’ no @ symbol for the A, no zero for the O, and even that’s not a great idea because clearly everybody knows what those are with this. But if your password is just ‘password,’ they’re not going to let you delete hacked posts because you should have been more secure.

RP: Right, okay, so that’s real quick, easy, hopefully nobody out there that’s watching this episode is using a password that is that simple. But let’s actually go through, so you actually have four steps that people should go through in evaluating the situation and how they should respond to it.

SG: Right, so number one is determine whether you should delete it or not, and you’d be surprised, but not always is it the case that you should delete the bad posts. We had an instance where one of our employees posted something about fashion on my marketing website, obviously this is totally wrong, inappropriate, not a negative inappropriate, but it was not the correct post for our page, and we just left it and played off of it like, “Oops, sorry, we got away from ourselves!” Or something like that. So, when you have an incorrect post, you don’t always need to delete it. However, there are a couple of instances where you should, one of them is if it’s lewd or derogatory, if it’s profanity, any sort of nakedness, it should not be on your social media, racist, things like that that are super offensive that you need to just take down, then that’s where we can take it down. But it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to go away, especially if you have a very popular account, or if it goes viral, people take screenshots of these things and you’ve seen it all the time, United Airlines was a famous one where they had just this happen, and people took screenshots of it before United could take it down, and so it lives forever. So, be aware that even if you delete it, it’s still might exist in the internet world.

RP: Right, yeah but hopefully if it is something, if you can get rid of it as soon as possible, if it makes sense, I think the real key decision is don’t make a knee-jerk reaction, because if it’s something that doesn’t necessarily need to be removed and you do, it just kind of creates the baiters out there, the trolls, the people that are trying to create controversy, it just gives them an opportunity to, whereas if you are able to respond to it quickly, and accept and say, “Hey, yeah this happened,” and spin it in some way that it’s a positive thing. We’re all human and I think most 99.9% of the people out there understand that we’re human and that mistakes do happen.

SG: Right, and before we lead into what number two is, and that’s taking responsibility, the other instance for possibly deleting them is an obvious hack job. So if somebody hacked your account or you had a former employee that you didn’t remove access to them, removed their access to your account, and it’s clearly a hack job and they’re posting things that shouldn’t be there, go ahead and delete those ’cause you can still go into what our step two is, take responsibility. And that is, own up to it. Yeah, like you said, “We’re human. Yeah, we’re human, we totally screwed up, we’re really sorry about it.” And if you did delete the post, explain why you deleted the post.

SG: So if there was an obvious… If someone hacked your account, explain that it was… Your account was hacked, so you removed those posts, or if it was a lewd photo, that you just were not comfortable leaving that attached to your brand. But take responsibility, and take ownership for it, and just… ‘Cause 99.9% of the time, when you say, “Yeah, you’re right. We totally screwed up. We’re sorry. We’ll do our best to not let that happen again.” It calms all those… All the negativity. All those trolls, all the troublemakers that want to just create controversy. When you just own up, and say, “Yeah, you’re right. We screwed up.” Then they have nothing. It’s like bullies. They have nothing to go on. Whereas if your defence are going, “No, no. We didn’t do that. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” They’ve just… It… Those are the people that are going to have the screen shot, and they’re going to go, “Oh really. Here’s proof.” And you’re just going to make the situation worse.

RP: Right, yeah. There’s definitely no need to fan the flames. I think the best example I can think of that, is the movie ‘8 Mile’, where Eminem, I figure he’s Marshall Mathers in the movie, or whatever. But he’s got the wrap off, and he’s like, “Yeah, I know you’re going to talk about me being white, and that I live on the wrong side of the trailer park, and my mom uses drugs. I know you’re going to talk about that, so I’m going to talk about it first.” And the poor guy, when it was his turn to rap, he didn’t have anything to say, because he (Marshall) basically took all the ammunition away, up front.

SG: Right, and so, that’s a great strategy. And then on the social media side, the famous one was, I think it was Amy’s Baking Kitchen, or something like that.

SG: If you guys could have seen Ryan there…

RP: This is what not to do. Please do not follow Amy’s Kitchen at all.

SG: Yeah. Not… So it wasn’t… It was Amy’s Baking something. It was ABC.

RP: Yeah.

SG: It was Amy’s Baking something. So it was not… Let’s be clear, it was not Amy’s Kitchen, the vegan food conglomerate. It was not them. It was some small restaurant in, I think, Arizona. They were on the Gordon Ramsey show. But they were the classic case of what not do to on social media. They would delete things, and they deny, deny, deny. And it became this huge explosion. Whereas if they just said, “You know what, you’re right. We totally screwed up.” Done deal. It takes the winds out of the sails of the negative people.

SG: That takes us into number three. So, you’ve owned up to it, but it might… You may or may not delete the post. The next step is to track it, and track mentions, and engage. So, if somebody did take a screenshot, or if people, say on Twitter, were tweeting about your post, and tweeting negative things, respond to those posts, and say, “Hey, we’re so sorry. We know. It was a total mistake on our part. We’ve taken care of it.” So, engage in the conversation that might be happening around the negative post that accidentally occurred. That way you can try and nip the negativity in the bud as fast as possible. And it goes hand in hand with the responsibility, where you’re responding individual to people. So, you’re engaged, they know you care, it matters to you, they matter to you, and you’re just trying to wipe it out as fast as possible.

RP: Right. And I think there’s two things to that. One, if you’re actually engaged in it, it shows the sincerity. And people are going to see that also. Other people are going to see that engagement, so that creates an overwel… Overall feeling of goodwill that you’re trying to convey. The other thing is if you are not comfortable, you’re not sure how to convey, or what that message should be, then it may be a smart idea to bring in a social media expert, or a PR expert, to help you mold that conversation, because the last thing you want to do is dig a deeper hole, make things worse. Guys with women, we do that all the time. So, sometimes it’s helpful to just minimize what you have to say, or just make sure that you choose your words wisely.

SG: Right, you definitely don’t want to fan the flames. So, and this goes into… So, then this takes us into number four, and that’s, ‘Develop a strategy to take care of this, and develop a post-approval process for the future.’ So, if you didn’t have any sort of approval process to try and prevent this from happening, you might want to put a procedure in place for that. Thing like making sure you have an editorial calendar, so that you can approve things in advance, before they go out. So, you can… If something accidentally ends up, and there’s a link, things like that, then you can catch it before it happens, most likely. And then part of your plan ongoing is, if it were to happen again, what’s your plan, thinking of these three, four steps, and who’s in charge of it? Who is going to monitor for comments, responses? Who’s responsible for that? Who’s responsible for taking care of it? What are the words you’re going to say so you don’t inflame it even worse, if you’re tactful and sorry, and take ownership. So having a clear cut plan in place, is a really good idea, and also having the assignments of who’s responsible for what, so that nothing gets dropped while you’re doing it.

RP: Yeah, and I think there’s two part… There’s two thoughts that I’m thinking of when you say that. One is, also, depending on how large your company is. How many people actually have access to your account? Are you rotating out passwords, so that a vindictive ex-employee doesn’t… Isn’t able to find access somehow. And also by limiting it… Eliminating the possibility for multiple people. If you only have one or two people that have access, then you limit the touch points that somebody could create an issue, and the one thing I really like about having an action plan in place is that if it does happen, you have a procedure that you can follow so you can take action quickly versus having to A, Figure something out on the fly making a knee jerk emotional reaction or not taking into consideration everything where if you had a procedure it would step you through all the different things you should consider in your response.

SG: Right. And consider it the same as your evacuation plan. You hope your building will never catch on fire and you’ll never need to evacuate it. However, you have a plan in place just in case it does. So, it’s the same philosophy here. You have a plan in place, the worst case scenario just in case it happens, but you hope it never does. And then with the access parts, there are things you can do like using OneLogin or LastPass. There are lots of programs, websites where you can… I use it all the time with my employees where they log in to one log in and they have access to what I’ve said that they get access to and they click a button and it logs them in. So, they actually don’t have the passwords. They have a one click button. So the advantage of that is I only need to go to one place and remove them from one location and they lose access to everything if I need to. So, consider having some of that in place that myself as a business owner, I have all the passwords, obviously, but then creating a stopgap like that so that if an employee leaves and is disgruntled, you can wipe them out really quick and easy without having to worry about anything.

RP: Okay, perfect. Well, tell you what, we’re coming up on the last minute of the show, so let’s recap real quickly what those four steps are that business owners should take in account for as they’re creating an action plan or response to a negative post on their social media account.

SG: So, first you want to determine whether or not you need to delete the post, and don’t make a rash decision on that. Be thoughtful before you actually just delete. Two is take responsibility and ownership of it. Own up to it and just say, “Yep, we were wrong.” Three is monitor the different social media platforms where the negative post happened and engage with any conversations that are going on so that you can try and wipe out the flames. And four is create a posting approval strategy with a social editorial calendar so you can approve posts in advance before they go out to try and prevent this from happening again. And then just have an overall plan of if it happens again, who’s in charge of what and have a strategy in place to take care of it so you can wipe it out as fast as possible.

RP: All right, perfect. So, there you go. It’s as easy as one, two, three, four. Yes, it will take a little bit of time. However, should something happen, it could really save your bacon. Especially nowadays with how fast information travels on the internet, it’s really smart to have a social media preparedness plan, outline all of that together. Hope you found some great information out of this episode. Next week, we’re going to be talking about something super exciting. I’m going to keep it a secret because it’s that good and we’re looking forward to seeing you next week. Sarah, as always, I appreciate the time and energy that you put into the show and your expertise in social media.

SG: Thank you, Ryan. It’s always a pleasure. I have a blast doing these every week with you.

RP: All right, awesome. Take care everybody. We will see you next Wednesday.


About the Author:

Ryan Perry is the founder and CEO of Simple Biz Support, Inc. Ryan started video blogging in 2009 as an alternative to written blogs to create visibility and credibility online. During the workweek, he enjoys helping small business owners harness the power of video to grow their companies. On the weekends, he enjoys hiking and searching out waterfalls throughout the state of California.

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