Companies should have an exit plan, not just in case of fire, but in the case of a Social Media disaster.
Recently, the Jawitz Real Estate Company weathered a Social Media storm which they will not be able to recover from anytime soon. Penny Sparrow, a realtor for the company, posted racist comments on her Facebook page that instantly went viral and sparked the racial debate that constantly plagues our country.
Companies should take this as a key learning lesson and implement the following procedures to prevent and manage Social Media Disasters:
- ALWAYS think before you post. If you wouldn’t be willing to say it to over the loudspeaker to a full stadium of 60 000 people at Ellis Park, then don’t say it on Social Media. And not only do you need to think about what you’re saying but who you’re saying it to. With Social Media, your comment has the potential to reach billions of people – a humbling thought! So always ask yourself the question before posting, “How will this affect others?”
- Develop a social culture within your company. Following IBM’s example, ask your employees to assist with creating a set of social guidelines for the company. By getting everything out in the open and leaving no room for ambiguity, there is less chance that mistakes will be made.
- Employees should also be trained on social networks that the company currently has profiles on – this should be included in the induction process. Training should include reputational and legal risks such as breach of confidentiality and defamation.
- When your company is recruiting for a position, no matter how junior or senior it is, do your RESEARCH on potential candidates’ social media networks. This will provide you with insight into the individuals’ social media habits.
- An online audit should be conducted once an employee leaves your company. This should include popular social media networks such Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and any blogs the employee was active on, such as WordPress & Tumblr. All reference to current employment by your company should be removed.
- Ask employees to engage as brand ambassadors. According to Dorie Clark of Forbes in her article. The Best Way to Prevent Social Media Disasters, your employees may, in fact, be one of your greatest Social Media assets. As Clark points out, the more your employees can be seen as experts in their respective fields, the more likely your company will be seen as the go-to point by potential clients seeking solutions.
- Ensure your company generates a holding statement in the case of a disaster that can be amended to include the specifics and enables management to manage any crisis promptly.
- Lastly, remember that honesty is always the best policy. If you do make a mistake, own up to it and do so quickly. Trying to hide from it will most likely only aggravate the situation, it won’t just go away.