Every type of organization and business is likely to be criticized or given negative feedback on social media or online review sites; it's just part of the world we live in today. What can animal shelters and rescue groups do when it happens to them?
Social media consultant Christie Keith has four suggestions for handling a reputation crisis -- tips that might just let you come out of the crisis better off than when you went in!
1. Be honest. Is the criticism or attack warranted? "All too often, I see businesses and groups fly into defensive mode without spending even ten seconds considering whether the criticism is fair," Keith said. "If it is, acknowledge it and thank them for bringing it to your attention. After all, they did you a favor. Be gracious, even if they're not."
2. Don't ignore it. If the negative feedback in a review is valid, accept responsibility and tell them what you'll do to fix it, or refer them to someone at your organization who can. "Most of the time, people just want an acknowledgement that they were heard, and that what they said matters to you," Keith pointed out. "Give them that assurance and make sure they know what changes you're making, and you may make a firm supporter for the future. Plus, since reviews are public, everyone else who sees their bad review will also see your classy, helpful response."
3. Be transparent. Don't reflexively hide negative Facebook conversations, even though you can, cautions Keith. "It's very tempting to hide challenging comments and posts on your Facebook page, but before you do that, be sure to consider points one and two on this list," she said. "A polite and helpful response -- genuinely polite and helpful, not borderline sarcastic -- will often create the possibility of genuine communication, and at worst, will show observers that you're taking the high road."
4. Be realistic. "You can't always win at these things," Keith said. "Sometimes the best you can do on social media is be honest, responsive and gracious, and then try to move on. If you've addressed the complaint to the best of your ability, there's nothing more you can do, and you've referred them higher in your organization to get resolution, it may be time to hide the discussion on social media. It's not productive at that point, for you or for them. And it creates stress and anxiety in observers of the exchange."
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