The ancient Japanese proverb ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ has had many meanings over the years. The most widely accepted opinion would be to always keep pure and honest intentions when interacting with those within your community. This can be done in many ways like only surrounding yourself with positive people, thinking encouraging thoughts, and making sure that everything you say only has good intentions around it. Think about that for a second. And now think about Twitter. At the time of its creation, this social media platform was used as a digital diary for those who wanted to divulge their inner fears or insignificant thoughts. Fast forward to today where it has evolved into one of the most accessible communication tools that we know today.
Twitters users are able to connect with their friends, family, and most importantly, favorite brands on a very personal level. Whether they’re using their 140 characters to try and win a contest or to show their latest latte purchase, these engagements have proven the foundation of a healthy online community. This doesn’t mean that a community manager can only expect to hear about the good things. This type of unique transparency also opens the doors for critics to come in and truly speak their mind.
An example of this would be a fictionalized case study done by The Harvard Business Review. In this example, a CEO, a director of social media, an account manager, and the head of communications are brought together to solve a PR crisis that takes place over Twitter. The company planned to create a hashtag that would allow people to tweet in and win roundtrip plane tickets to the destination of their choosing. When they saw the negative feedback that they were getting, they sat and deliberated about whether or not to cancel the content and make everything go away.
There are many instances that can cause the Twitterverse to turn against you:
- Publicity gone awry
- Any change in a product or service (malfunction, new features, etc.)
- Rogue employee (case in point: Justine Sacco)
- Corporate change such as a massive layoff
While there are no special recipes that can help your company survive an attack from your Twitter community, there are some things that you can do to ensure that you can weather the storm and come out on top. Here are a few things to remember when Twitter turns on you:
- Acknowledge what happened. One of the first things that any community manager must do is acknowledge when your community has any grievances. Whether it’s a tweet stating that you’re listening or even a Q&A to ease people’s concerns, you cannot ignore your community.
- Honesty is the ONLY policy. One of the most important qualities of a community manager is their ability to be an honest and open communicator. If you have a strong community behind your brand, and you want to keep them, you must never tell a lie. Not only will your followers lose faith in you, it ruins your credibility with them and any potential followers they may be connected to.
- Don’t silence your audience. Sometimes, your community just needs to get their aggression out. They want to know that you value their feedback and not just their attention for your benefit.
- Document what you’ve learned. Each mistake is a learning opportunity. Whether you get the outcome you desired or not, you will be able to walk away with knowledge about how to address a situation like this again in the future. It’s better to be prepared than surprised.
- Don’t let the Twitterverse scare you. There are always going to be situations where someone is unhappy due to one reason or another. A successful community manager doesn’t let a hurdle stop them, but rather uses it as a learning tool and a stepping stone to their next goal.
Can you think of any points that I’m missing? Do you have any experience with a Twitter Crisis? Feel free to comment or tweet me at @AlexisMadison20.