Are businesses helpless in the face of an online crisis?
We all know big businesses that have suffered at the hands of an online crisis. Who can forget United Airlines’ terrible handling of an oversubscribed plane, compounded by the CEO adamantly proclaiming his employees handled the situation correctly.
In the days before digital and phones used as recording devices, United may have weathered that storm. They would have probably made a full private apology and financially compensated the victim. Not today. The whole event is live-streamed to an infinite online audience that now become judge and jury of the business’s actions.
It is to a business’s peril if they act without understanding this is the new normal. The online space has exacerbated any crisis a business might now experience.
A crisis can come in many guises but ultimately the intention is to damage your business and its reputation, either maliciously or through a genuine complaint. Your business will experience a form of attack, this might be a blog written to highlight an issue or it might be a live streamed video. Any version of attack is used to create doubt in the audience’s mind about your business. Whether the attack is genuine or malicious, the comments, contributions, sharing, and liking, will undermine the confidence of even the greatest leaders.
The problem with online is that the issue can live and grown and keep growing and even when you think the issue has died it can come back to life again. Even the most resilient will be driven offline eventually – there is only so much people can tolerate when a continual negative dialogue persists.
Does that mean we are all helpless in the face of attacks?
Definitely not. How well a business copes with an attack depends on how much up-front preparation and proactive measures they have put into place.
Your business is full of people, processes and protocols. Equipping your staff with the knowledge and resources they need to keep your online profile safe and protected is absolutely invaluable. Ensuring your systems are built correctly to keep it protected and having robust internal protocols that clearly define roles and responsibilities are the minimum that should be in place.
If you are caught in crisis there are some very simple immediate steps to take; block or hide the protagonist, ignore them – I can’t say that strongly enough, if you give the protagonist an audience you fuel the fire – no audience no actor. Don’t go back and re-read the content, your actions stoke the algorithm to keep it visible. You also only serve to heighten your own anxiety.
All of this can seem very daunting and personal. Don’t let it consume you if your car broke down you would call a mechanic and if you sink was leaking you would call a plumber. So call us to get the advice and expertise that will fix the problem. Above all don’t feel like you are alone we are happy to share our expertise and help.