“Vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m willing to show you.” Brene Brown
Back in 2008, the popular pain reliever Motrin discovered that its online reputation never takes a day off, when hundreds of moms took offense at a YouTube campaign the company launched on a Friday. Unfortunately, no one at the company saw the backlash until Monday.
Fast forward to 2013 and you would think companies would have learned a lot in those 5 years—like, your reputation doesn’t clock out on Friday and then back in on Monday. Nope! When a British Airways passenger needed assistance over the weekend, he reached out to the airline using Twitter. Unfortunately, his requests for help went unanswered so the customer decided to seek revenge by purchasing a sponsored tweet which read:
“Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.”
That sponsored tweet caught the attention of more than just that customer’s 500 Twitter followers. Many news outlets picked up the story and it went viral faster than a BA flight from London to New York! When BA did finally respond, they tried to explain that their Twitter feed shuts down for the weekends. Yes, you read that correctly. Despite offering flights 24/7, a web site that is accessible any hour of the day, and operators standing by to take your call, BA decided that they could just turn off their Twitter monitoring each weekend!
Your three stage monitoring plan
Your reputation never takes a day off. Sure, you might need a little R&R, but that doesn’t mean you can stick your head in the sand until you’re back in front of your computer. You need to monitor your reputation at all times. Fortunately, there are three different approaches to reputation monitoring which, when combined, should protect you from being blind-sided by a weekend rant.
Automated social media monitoring
If you’re not able to schedule time to check on your social networks on a regular basis, then it is vital that you use an automated social media monitoring tool. Back on Day 5, you looked at the different types of social media monitoring platforms available to you. If you haven’t already set one up, now is the time to do so. Pay particular attention to any tool that allows you to receive real time alerts for any conversations about your reputation—especially those with a negative vibe.
Your web analytics
When someone publishes a negative blog post about your company, tweets their discontent, or gives you a tongue lashing on YouTube, there’s a good chance you’ll see a spike in your web analytics. When an angry customer goes on the attack, their audience gets curious. They want to take a look at the recipient of the detractor’s onslaught, so they visit your web site.
Most of the time, you’ll see referrals directly from the source of the outrage. A spike in traffic from a domain name that you don’t recognize or an increase in the number of visitors from Twitter. Other times, you may just see an overall increase in direct visitors to a specific page on your web site. If someone complains to their email subscribers about your stance on a particular sensitive issue, then you might see an influx of visitors landing directly on the blog post or press release page related to that topic.
You should check your web analytics at least once day, even if it’s only for reputation management reasons. If you can’t commit to that, then either assign the task to someone else or look for a web analytics solution that will email you an alert if something out of the ordinary shows up in your web site traffic.
Many years ago, the company I worked at became the recipient of a rather ugly attack on an industry message board. Way before I would ever have discovered it, an industry friend dropped me an email to let me know. Thanks to their help, I was able to join the conversation, correct some inaccurate information, and deescalate the situation, all before lunch.
This is where building goodwill (Day 12) can really benefit you. When you build a great reputation among your stakeholders, they will be eager to help you out in times of distress. When they see your name come under attack, they’ll send you an email, a direct tweet, or a private message. Why? They’ve bought in to your brand; they’ve become a stakeholder. And while those that are upset might be quick to call you out, those that think you are doing a great job will want to stick up for you.
One of the keys to fostering this behavior from those that support you is to let them know how much it is appreciated. Even if you were already aware of the situation, don’t brush them off with a cold response—or no response at all. Always take time to thank them and, if they really saved your butt, perhaps send them a thank you card or small gift. They’ll know you appreciate the support and will practically trip over themselves to help you again, should they see another attack.
Awareness is the first step of a reputation attack. Over the remaining lessons, you’re going to learn how to respond to an attack, how to clean up the mess, and how to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
First, you need to understand the people behind the attack.