5 Hard Times Every Business Will Face on Social: What to Do

I have been managing social accounts for various businesses for about 5 years. I do really love social and it can be very rewarding, but there are times when things can get very difficult. I think any business that wants to have a strong social presence should have plans and strategies in place for dealing with the hard times that arise with social media management.

So, today I am going to explain why I think all businesses must have social plans and strategies in place and then I am going to go over some of the hard times I think every business will face.

First, Why Plans and Strategies are Important

1). Plans and strategies ensure that the person managing social represents the company in the appropriate manner. You need to make sure that whatever is said on social is a good representation of your company’s core values. With plans in place you can ensure that the same values your employees show to customers is also shown to those contacting you on social media networks.

2). Often there is a team of people running social media for a business to ensure someone is always available to people reaching out. With plans and strategies in place you can ensure that the same style of voice and the same level of customer service is available no matter who is managing social at any given time.

3). Backup is helpful! Fatigue, sometimes after 4-5 hours on social you start to just get emotionally tired, especially on rough days. There are times when written out plans and strategies are just a lifesaver. For me personally they are something I can fall back on when I am drained.

One Critical Recommendation For Everyone

I am about to go over the 5 hard times and give you some suggestions, but I have one serious recommendation that will apply to all situations and that is to be honest. Please keep in mind that when businesses lie and people find out about it the business always takes a hit.

When people lie on social and get caught it is actually quite sad to see the melee that is almost always an unmanageable situation to handle. Just tell the truth.


Website is Down

At some point, for every business, their website will go down. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as hosting issues, mistakes made, bill didn’t get paid, etc. So basically, just know that at some point it is going to happen.

For smaller businesses this might not cause social media managers too much stress, but for larger businesses the social media blowback can be massive and exhausting. Website users are often not happy when they can’t get access to what they want. This is where plans and strategies can be really helpful.

  • What will you say?
  • Who handles site issues – who does social contact to find out when the site will be back up?
  • What resources are available for the community team to answer questions when the site isn’t available?

Tell the Truth? The website is down and people don’t always need to know why, but if it isn’t your fault there is nothing wrong with explaining the situation.

Employee Offended a Customer

Sometimes employees offend a client or customer. Sometimes it is the employee’s fault and sometimes the client/customer is too sensitive or looking for a problem (bosses, always keep this in mind).

All that matters is that you represent your brand well in this situation. People are watching and people write articles or create news stories about interactions they see on social. It is really important to be understanding and come up with a solution for the person that is upset.

Try to get them offline!

You don’t want to air your dirty laundry, right? So try to steer these folks towards, direct messages, messaging, an email or a phone call. Your interaction should be positive and empathetic, but you never know how people will react! The best thing is to make sure everyone does not see the bulk of a negative conversation. This doesn’t always work, so be as kind as possible and let others see you provide a solution.

Product or Service Failure

Product and service issues are a given. Sometimes it is user error and sometimes a product or service fails. Here are some suggestions:

Create a spreadsheet of all complaints/issues – If there is a fix for any of the issues write it down so everyone on the social team can quickly help people reaching out. This helps your support teams as well because social can answer questions and reduce the number of people being sent to support.

Be prepared for common user error issues and everyday questions – Keep in mind that people don’t know what we know. They may be using your product or service and truly have no clue how to troubleshoot. You have to be ready to help with user error and answer the same questions every day; this is part of the job. Keeping a list of common issues and solutions is good as well.

Be honest – If you don’t know why something is happening, just say you don’t know and they need to contact support. If a product or service has common problems discuss with management what is appropriate and not appropriate to say (legal is an issue). Sometimes the best thing you can say is, “We see this issue often and want to help you with this problem.”

Anger and Trolls

irritatedANGER! There are some folks that are just angry all the time and nothing you say is really going to make anything better. Then there are those that will let their anger go if they see you have made an effort to win them over. When it comes to angry people you have a 50/50 shot at making it better.

The best thing you can do is keep in mind that people are watching you and you need to look like you are really trying to the masses, as well as the person reaching out. If you see, after repeated attempts to help, that the angry person isn’t going to let it go just step back for a while and see if they will stop. Remember, you can always try to steer it offline.

TROLLS! Then there are those that love to troll social media accounts. They are there just to create problems and argue and they are very good at it! If you can avoid it don’t engage because it just fuels the fire. What I find often is that they will go away quickly if you just don’t engage. Sometimes you have to step in, but just know that you won’t win an argument with one because they aren’t there to find a solution, they are there to cause a problem.

Negative Discussions About Your Brand

When I am managing social accounts I always follow discussions, which means I don’t just look at mentions…I follow links and discussions that don’t mention our handle on Twitter or are not on our Facebook/Google+ page. If I feel like something is completely inaccurate I can say something from the brand and I can also reach out under my personal account and be a little stronger in my defense.

By following links in social discussions and using tools such as Fresh Web Explorer I can keep an eye on conversations about the brands I represent on websites. Often I take these to community teams and/or managers and we determine what step we will take. Sometimes we say nothing and sometimes someone within the company will reach out and say something via comments. This has been very successful.

Pro Tip: To be really good at social media management you have to follow the breadcrumbs. Watch conversations everywhere, keep lists of issues and find ways that your brand can be better. No one is perfect and everyone can improve in areas. Sometimes the best information I see on how we can improve is from discussions on social (where we are not tagged or mentioned) and in comments on websites.

Social Media Management

It isn’t easy, but it can be done right. Just have some plans and strategies in place and make sure everyone on your team has the same values and vision in place. This is a great start.

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