In this week’s webinar we tackled a serious topic in social media today: crisis management. Defining a social media crisis as an incident that spreads rapidly on social networks and causes significant damage to reputation, we brought in the experts to discuss ways to avert, manage and recover from a crisis.
Here are answers from our panelists to select questions submitted by attendees.
Q: How to rebuild reputation in the case of a negative situation such as a robbery?
Daniel Edward Craig, Reknown. If the robbery occurred on property and the guest posts a review or comment blaming your hotel, people will be looking for reassurance that the same thing won’t happen to them. Post a brief response to say how seriously you take the matter, to clarify any misinformation, and to outline the steps you have taken to prevent a recurrence.
If the robbery occurred off-property, show that you empathize with the guest. If theft is an issue in your region, you might use it as an opportunity to reinforce the cautionary measures travelers should take. Say what your hotel, visitors bureau and local authorities are doing to address the problem.
Adds Camilo Olea of Cancun Is Safe, “Show the actions taken and what is being done to increase security and prevent it from happening again. Humanize your brand; accept that situations like this unfortunately can happen to anyone.”
For more info about destination reputation management check out this interview with Camilo .
Q: When to address derogatory posts without causing further antagonism and when to delete posts?
Jon Paul Buchmeyer, Digital Media Strategist, Hawkins Public Relations: If by “derogatory” you mean the post is commenting on the property or a bad service experience, then it’s important to address it, mostly to demonstrate to the rest of your fans and followers that you are attentive to the situation. I recommend doing so generally, for example, “We appreciate you providing the feedback and want to follow-up with you directly to see how we can make the situation better. Please direct message us or call and ask for …”
Take these situations offline as soon as possible, with the hope that when resolved the person posts a follow-up on the page. Alternatively, you can also add a comment such as, “We’re so glad we were able to connect and resolve the situation.”
If by “derogatory,” however, you mean they are using profane language or insulting others, then you are within bounds to delete the posts.
Q: What should a company do about reputation blackmail?
Daniel: Check out my recent article, How to Manage Review Blackmail.
Q: How can one identify a detractor, possibly still in house, if he uses a nickname?
Daniel: If a detractor chooses anonymity it’s not always easy or even possible to find out who he is. You may find clues by checking out his profile and Googling the username, as he may use it elsewhere online. Send a message to express care and concern and ask how to reach him directly. This is particularly important if he is in-house as you still have time to fix the problem.
Q: How to handle a previous employee who is saying negative things about your company on social media outlets?
Daniel: Again, your response depends on the circumstances. If the employee comes across as bitter, people will see this. It might be better to ignore it rather than call more attention to it and show that it bothers you, which might play into the author’s motivations.
You can also try politely and firmly asking the person to desist. If that doesn’t work and the content is serious and damaging, threatening legal action is another option. Bear in mind that with lawsuits often the only winners are the lawyers.
Q: Where can we find guidelines on removing content online? How do you find where and how it all began?
Daniel: For good insight into this topic and the previous topic check out Sarah Downey’s article, How to delete things from the Internet: A guide to doing the impossible.
Q: Is it ever the case that hotels exaggerate the quality of their facility, and then when guests arrive they find themselves very disappointed with the conditions? In other words, do hotels dig the very hole that winds up with the negative social media writeups that then follow?
Neil James, ReviewPro: Unfortunately this is a real scenario and something that we at ReviewPro constantly advise our clients to manage effectively. Guests have the ability to share their experiences across a multitude of review sites and social networks. Hoteliers need to be very aware that any misleading information or the setting of false expectations may be shared by guests across these sites.
As an example, hoteliers often comment that they cannot influence the ‘Location’ rating on review sites. In fact, you can influence it by accurately setting expectations in the descriptions on your website, OTA sites, review sites and other channels. Use tools like ReviewPro to identify positive comments related to your location and highlight these aspects in marketing descriptions. And be sure to address any negative comments that suggest that your info on location is misleading.
Q: What is the optimal time to respond to the negative review/comment or post? If it happened at midnight?
Daniel: It depends on the channel, but as a rule the sooner negative content is addressed the better as it can be spread rapidly and scare potential guests away. First, however, ensure that you fully understand the situation and potential consequences. The more complex or sensitive the situation, the more carefully thought-out the response should be. If the comment is serious, wait until you have consulted senior management before responding publicly.
Q: What kind of information should social media communications include during a crisis?
Daniel: Dr. Alexandros Paraskevas, Senior Lecturer, Risk Management, at Oxford Brookes University, provided us with some valuable insight in the area of disaster management in the webinar. He emphasizes the importance of having a crisis communication strategy in place and, during a crisis, the need for one clear, consistent voice on social media platforms.
With messaging, he says, it’s important to leave as few gaps in information as possible because these gaps will be filled by uninformed outsiders. “Our stakeholders expect to learn from us in the first instance: Who? What? When? Where? The “Why” is normally explored later,” says Dr. Paraskevas.
In the aftermath of a crisis, he says, people will be more analytical and will want to know things like why the crisis happened and what new measures will be taken to prevent it from recurring.
Special thanks again to our expert panelists. For more info see our article, Is Your Hotel Prepared for a Social Media Crisis?.
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