Is your restaurant prepared for a category 5 social media storm?
Thanks to the speed of social media, going viral for a funny ad campaign is just as likely as going viral for poor customer service. The spread of information is swift, unrelenting, and can have a direct impact on your reputation and your bottom line. It is not enough to simply navigate the sea of information, you have to be skilled in getting your brand safely across treacherous waters, reputation intact.
A Starbucks location in Atlanta found themselves the victim of a viral social media hoax where someone on Twitter claimed to be a Starbucks employee tainting customer orders. The hoax caused a frenzy, leading to Starbucks closing the location.
Nation’s Restaurant News spoke with crisis communications expert, Brad Ritter, and social media expert, Dan Bejmuk, to learn what you can learn from how Starbucks avoided a social media crisis.
The Three C’s of Crisis Communication
According to Ritter, the Starbucks expertly implemented the Three C’s: Communication, Concern, and Control, to successfully avoid a catastrophe:
Communicate quickly. Your customers want to feel heard and they need to know that you are handling the situation. Customers today are as sensitive as they are savvy and they will not put up with companies that are not paying attention to a crisis. The initial tweet alleging that there was tainted food was sent out on a Sunday evening. Within 18 hours, Starbucks had gathered the necessary information, checked all the facts, and issued a response.
Your customer needs to be reassured that you care about their safety and their business. In the case of Starbucks, they used Twitter, the same platform where the false allegations were spread, to let their customers know that they were actively working with the police to get to the bottom of the situation.
Starbucks took control of the situation by being persistent as well as consistent in their responses. They took the time to reiterate, as many times it was necessary, that the allegations were false, devoutly tweeting back to individual customers that expressed concern instead of just making one general statement. They took the time to reach customers where they were already talking, on Twitter and made the effort to spread their response as far as the hoax had spread. In essence, they took control of the situation by regaining control of the conversation.
What to Do Before Crisis Strikes
Here’s Dan Bejmuk says you can do to manage public perception ahead of a crisis:
Own Your Profiles
Use a site like Know Em to see all the platforms your brand name is available on and claim those accounts. Maintain a presence on the social media platforms your customers are already using so you can respond in the case of an event. Tell your customers where to find you online by promoting your social accounts in-store. Build a reputation ahead of a crisis by posting regularly and connecting with your regulars and local influencers by using tools like Buffer or Hootsuite.
Monitor your platforms.
Make sure someone is not just posting, but listening and responding to customers on your social media platforms. This is crucial for national and global brands, but smaller companies can benefit as well. Not only can you monitor for potential issues, you get real-time updates about what your customers are saying about your brand or product. You can do this by setting up Google Alerts or using tools like Awario or Mention.
Have a plan
Communicate with your management to have a plan that’s ready to spring into action in case your company finds itself in the midst of a social media crisis. Establish a point person to handle crisis inquiries and consider having a response ready to give customers while you are sorting through the facts.
Talk to them about the Three C’s and how you can implement them with special consideration to your brand or product.Is your restaurant prepared for a category 5 social media storm? Click To Tweet
Any tips we missed or tools you love? Let us know in the comments.