When a brand has thousands of target followers and likes on their social media profiles, it’s definitely something to be proud of, but what happens if their audience suddenly turns against them on the social web? What are you going to do if you made a mistake online and people start turning against you with negative comments and feedback that everyone can see? Will you be notified when this happens? Does the negative feedback about your brand outweigh the positive mentions?

Even though this might not happen to you it’s important that you have a online reputation management (ORM) process in place that can help you manage it correctly when a social media fire starts. Bad news online spreads like wildfire and it takes one update in 140 characters or less to destroy a digital reputation. Find below a couple of tips to help extinguish a social media fire when it hits your brand online,

Have a process in place

With online reputation management (ORM), planning is everything. Create a social media policy for your brand that outlines the rules for responsible administration. Appoint a team, social media manager or a department to monitor your brand proactive and reactive towards any customer service issues. Having a process in place where this team can monitor all the actions taking place regarding your brand on the social web on a daily basis will ensure you are always in the know how of what is going on. If your team is proactive and understands the strategy and process for combating an issue before it gets out of control, you are already a step ahead.

Don’t wait to act

The faster you can respond with a strategic and thoughtful response on handling the issue, the faster you will be able to push the negative comments further down the search results out of direct point of view. If the crisis is a snowball and spreading like a wildfire, then it’s very important that you act quickly. Review the situation and assess the damage because you are not ever going to change policies over complaints. Acknowledge any comments you receive and respect their opinion. It’s not always possible to have a direct answer to every negative post, but it’s important that your target audience know your company will have a resolution to the matter at hand.

Don’t respond with closed doors

The worst thing you can do with your network online is to make them feel that they are engaged in a one way conversation such as radio and television. Always respond to individuals publicly on the social web. If you are only going to respond with private messages (behind closed doors), it looks like you have something to hide. If one of your target audience makes a public post for everyone to see concerning your brand, respond with a public post back. It’s important that you understand what your target audience expectations are and you should be prepared to deal with any concerns or problems that arise. When you respond in the public, everyone will be able to see that the problem was addressed, and it also demonstrates that you really care about your customers and that you appreciate their loyalty.

By taking these three simple precautions, your company will be able to manage a social media fire efficiently and effectively when this happens to you.

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