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How to React When Your Brand Name is Tarnished Online

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest.  We live in an age of social media networks. For marketers, ignoring the shift from brands telling a story to consumers, to consumers telling a brand’s story is dangerous.

The worlds of public relations and marketing have merged. Now, the story brands tell on websites and social media networks garner the attention of the public. Reporters turn to Twitter to find the latest topics of conversation. Consumers turn to peers on social media networks to find more information about a brand name, product, or service.

How to React When Your Brands Name is Tarnished Online

The upside to this social shift is easier, more expansive reach online. The downside? Your brand name is in jeopardy of slander because of one bad experience. Marketers often don’t have warning or control over this. As the face of the brand on social media networks, marketers are the first to see the damage “ and the first to react.

The way you react to public criticism online is more important than what’s actually said. If you see your brand name getting tarnished online, here is a quick lesson in crisis communication. With these tips in mind, you can do fast damage control and minimize the negative impact bad comments on social media have on your brand.

In the past, it’s been thought that if you apologize, you admit fault. That’s stopped many brands from saying those valuable two words, “I’m sorry.”

Big mistake.

Companies large and small make mistakes. It’s human to err. You have humans working at your company, managing your customer service and marketing, so it’s natural that some things will fall through the cracks here and there.

The first thing you must do when you notice a mistake is to apologize.

Take the complaint offline as soon as possible.

After you’ve muttered those two magic words, take the conversation off of social media and out of the spotlight. Ask the person to contact you directly in a private message. Then, exchange contact information so you can follow up on the problem.

The faster you take the conversation offline, the better. By making the conversation private, you avoid the mob mentality that so often escalates situations of this nature.

Speak one-on-one with the person who is upset and determine what it is you need to do to resolve the problem. Working person-to-person instead of corporation-vs-followers will put an end to the negative backlash faster.

Fix the problem.

After chatting with the person who originally started the backlash, you’ll get a good idea of what it will take to make him or her happy. Sometimes that will involve refunding some money. Sometimes it will involve mailing a replacement product.

Figure out what it will take to end the bad publicity and follow through on it. The faster you appease the person or people who started the negative campaign about your brand, the faster the crisis will go away. Sometimes, the way you fix the problem can actually come back to benefit you in the long run.

As a brand, you know what it takes to make your customers happy. Use what you know works to fix a major crisis before it escalates.

Take a deep breath.

Throughout the crisis, try to relax and focus on how to right the situation. Do not get defensive. Do not try to fight back. Do not pass go.

The social media backlash will come to an end eventually “ probably sooner than you think.”

Put on your public relations hat, customer service hat, and marketing hat together and move forward in a way that’s most beneficial for your customer. In the end, that’s what will repair your brand’s reputation better than ignoring the problem or defending your company in a way that just sparks more rage and fury.

Author Bio: Kimberly Crossland is a marketer, writer, and small business advocate. She works with small business owners providing content marketing services and copywriting solutions to develop a strong, lucrative online presence. Visit to learn more.

Image: PhotoSpin

Kimberly Crossland

Kimberly Crossland is the owner and founder of Savvy Copywriters, a marketing agency with one goal: to create campaigns that move people to the point of action. The goal of her work is to spark conversation and inspire meaningful change through the power of strategic, thoughtful writing.

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