If you ever thought your restaurant marketing strategy is taken care of by keeping an active profile on social networks, better think again! How would you handle your account if disaster struck? And by that we mean, what’s known as a ‘social media storm’, a flood of negative comments left by users, scandals originated by controversial topics or the apparent exposure of flaws in your business practices. You must learn how to handle critical situations on social media which is an essential occurrence for brands actively promoting their services over the Internet, this is a crucial demand, especially since your reputation will most probably hang by a thread if users attempt to damage your image online.
Many restaurants have actually been through such situations, now ask yourself: What’s the difference between those who came out unscathed and those who virtually sank and disappeared after receiving harsh criticism?
The difference has a lot to do with planning, restaurants that have drafted preemptive plans to handle crises on social networks have a higher chance to deal with them successfully. Companies that make an effort to take care of unpleasant scenarios before they happen are more likely to remain visible online and keep their reputation intact.
Why is creating a social media crisis plan important to your restaurant marketing strategies?
We have previously covered the importance of creating effective online marketing strategies, we’ll now examine how counting with a contingency plan to face and solve any crises on social media, no matter how severe, will help your business overcome difficult events just by applying it in situations where damage control is essential.
Life on the Internet moves as quickly as lightning, news spread in a matter of minutes, take that into consideration before you reply to input left by ‘hotheads’ or so called trolls, think about the consequences that could bring to the way customers perceive your brand, a bad response could definitely make things worse.
If you own a restaurant and you are present on social networks you definitely need to pay attention to this matter, don’t wait until it’s too late and your reputation suffers after it’s been damaged.
Be aware that hostility and attacks aimed at your business could come at any time and out of nowhere. Negativity could get started by a former, disgruntled employee, dissatisfied customers or someone just looking to create havoc, your goal must always be to count with a plan to counteract such crises, an effective contingency procedure that will help you ride out intimidating and troublesome situations. Be ready before social media storms hit, that’s the best course of action to take when your reputation is at stake.
A badly-handled attack has the potential to cripple the healthy perception you have struggled to sustain over many years. Is it really worthy it to lose the favor of your clients after a media disaster?
What’s the best way to go about devising an effective social media crisis plan?
Get ahead of crises
Expect the unexpected! Keep an eye on your social media accounts, if any negative events arise, be ready to deal with them immediately. It will be too late if you ‘let things slide’ and users take over discussions that lack your input.
- Imagine the scenarios that could arise
It’s not a bad idea to ask yourself: What are truly the worse situations my restaurant could face on social networks? Right after that, come up with answers to each one of those possible scenarios. It is easy to stay afloat when users are happy with your service but having the right answer to those hard questions is vital for businesses who plan to stick around, remain successful and thrive.
- Evaluate the resources at your disposal to provide the right answers
What are the strengths of your business? Brands count with advantages, resources and specialties that differentiate them from their competitors. Have you taken the time to figure out what’s special about the experience you offer to your clients? Now it’s the time to define what’s at your disposal in order to handle a serious crisis that may turn against your brand on social media. Is your customer service department ready to handle a sudden influx of negativity and criticism? Are you aware and ready to react to predicaments and confrontations ignited by events seemingly out of your control?
- Prepare a message
This is the part where you thoughtfully and carefully, measure, refine and intelligently devise a response that will put out the flames ignited by crises and controversy. You must know what to say and how to deliver your message effectively, your delivery must be precise, honest, transparent and never include facts that could be misinterpreted; the main point here is to gently take the blame, apologize, take responsibility and leave excuses out.
- Build the right team
We have made it this far and it feels like we may now be ready to deal with most dangerous crises but, wait, there’s still more to all this, right?: Do you count with trained staff who will be at the ready when disaster strikes? This essential personnel must be skilled on customer service, adept in the use of social media and knowledgeable about restaurant marketing techniques. If you intend to seek help or contact specialists about these topics, there are plenty of convenient solutions that will let you guide your business safely through the most complicated situations you could face on the Internet.
Things not to do when facing a crisis on social media
- Don’t take it personally
People are free to go anywhere and do as they please on the Internet. It is unwise to take things personally after reading a negative comment about your business online. Firing up a quick and emotional response right away may get you into trouble since the permanence of things we say over the Internet goes beyond what you’ll ever be able to control. Remain calm, accept criticism regardless of the tone, handle the situation sensibly and with the uttermost care.
- Reject criticism
No matter how unpleasant and harsh criticism seems, it’s important to realize how that sort of input can actually be turned into a blessing by extracting the essence of what’s being said. Take the time to ask yourself if your detractors are actually referring to information that is factual or truthful. Be grateful towards constructive criticism by simply replying with something along the lines of: “Thank you, we are working to solve this issue as soon as possible”. These kinds of answers are pleasant and will most probably keep you away from further trouble.
- Arguing in public
Complaints and arguments don’t need to be broadcasted the world over, do a bit of damage control by taking intense and emotionally charged exchanges into private channels until the parties involved settle on agreeable solutions. You are being watched, read and heard by massive amounts of both supporters and rivals. Dealing with confrontations in open, public forums is a sure way to ignite further controversy that may end up severely damaging the reputation of your business.
Take advantage of conflictive situations by finding ways to control them, don’t take the risk to reply thoughtlessly and hurt your reputation on social media networks. Don’t let crises grow out of proportion, apologize, offer sincere and reasonable solutions that will help your business keep the reputation that has taken you so many years to build intact.