So how does one run a social media campaign that doesn’t get too hot? Again citing Olivier Blanchard, a few tips (emphases are mine):-
1. If you have a Facebook wall, a Twitter page, or a blog, be present on it. Stay up-to-date on what is going on there. Read every single post, every single tweet related to your company.
2. Be a human being, not a company. Don’t let it be a cold ‘corporate’ presence; that sets you up for attacks, not engagement. Have a person representing you, with a name and a picture. Your PR person is visible in press conferences, so they should be on the net too.
3. Social media is a full-time occupation. Visiting the site every 10 days will never do. Try to respond to every post, every tweet. At the least, say thanks to the person.
4. Respond with facts. If someone is libelling you, making unsupported allegations, don’t threaten them, don’t be drawn into a fight. Show them facts to prove them wrong. If they are right, well, accept it. There are too many fighters on the net, don’t cede your space to them.
5. Direct the discussions, shape them to your advantage. You have to be in charge of how discussions go. You’re good at doing that in old media, do it on the internet.
6. Ask your customers, fans to give positive advice rather than criticism. The old, bureaucratic-style ‘we will look into the issues’ is a disastrous way to respond, for it is just what the fighters want. Tell them to put up their suggestions. Most ideas might be crazy, but someone will come up with a sane idea.
7. If you’ve averted the crisis, don’t sit back till the next one erupts. As an old saying goes, the enemy is truly defeated only when he is reconciled. Keep building a positive engagement.
8. Don’t hire out your PR to amateurs. Your old agency, which could do it so well on print or TV, might still be the best option. They may be unfamiliar with the format, but they are certainly not unfamiliar with the language.
Social media isn’t just a pastime for young people to share videos and pictures and flippant comments. While it maybe a bit of a distraction from your employees’ real work, it is unavoidable. It’s where your brand is being built or demolished everyday. You either swim with it, or it maroons you on an island of uncoolness. And just like swimming, you need to learn the right way.