A day doesn’t go by without a story about a well-known company grappling with the reputational fallout of an offensive comment or image appearing on its Facebook page or Twitter stream. Sometimes the damage happens as a result of an inadvertent tweet by a member of the company’s own social or community management team. (Think US Airways.)
But far and away the greatest risk to a company’s brand originates from external, consumer-generated posts that range from physical threats and extreme profanity, to racism or religious intolerance.
As companies grow their social media followings, the challenge of maintaining vibrant social communities that accrue positivity to their brands also grows.
Here are seven practical tips for getting and staying ahead of your social media detractors:
1. Have a system in place to remove damaging content fast, 24/7. The longer inappropriate content remains in your social channels, the greater the chances it will be shared and amplified to the detriment of the brand. Decide how quickly you need it taken down and set targets for your team or partner.
2. Have crisis management processes in place to respond quickly. Brand attacks and threats can be contained if you make an appropriate response quickly. Prepare in advance where you can and post your responses fast.
3. Recognise that brand threats arrive in multiple languages and formats. You may wish to begin the social moderation process in the language of your primary customers, but ultimately you should review content in all languages. Also much offensive content now comes in the form of images, video or links. Check it all.
4. Ensure you can cope with increases in volume. Companies often approach us after an unforeseen crisis hits and their teams do not have the capacity to cope with all the social traffic. Backlogs can mount up quickly so having a system in place to deal with increased volumes is vital.
5. Keep tabs on all your channels. Are you moderating that 2011 YouTube video that continues to get views and comments? Don’t just check your own website, Facebook and Twitter channels. Consider Google+, Pinterest, Instagram or any other channels you use.
6. Define upfront what is damaging content for your brand. Different companies have different brand sensitivities. An online betting brand will have different tolerances than a children’s entertainment brand. Have an action plan for different types of content that aligns with the brand image you want to project.
7. Choose a moderation partner that is right for your brand and budget. You can focus your internal team’s efforts on doing what they do best – engaging with customers – and let a partner do the heavy lifting of identifying, advising and even taking down offensive content. Think about cost – do they charge by volume or person-hours? And ask whether they can tailor their activities to your brand’s specific needs.
Adam Hildreth is founder and chief executive of social moderation service Crisp Thinking