Facebook can be a wonderful tool for business promotion. With a little bit of time and effort, you can share the silly and sassy side of your company culture with hundreds or even thousands of your fans, living close by or hundreds of miles away.

But, Facebook can also be an intensely dangerous site, in terms of your company’s online reputation. Those same people who could like, share or compliment your company could write nasty reviews, slap up unflattering snaps or curse through your comments. In short, you could log in one morning and find that your page is the nexus of a very serious reputation problem.

What should you do next? I’m here to help you through it.

Step 1: Gather the Data

Find out as much as you can about the person attacking you, and nail down when the attacker last had some interaction with your company. Is the attacker a former employee? A one-time customer? A competitor?

Then, gather the facts about the issue in question. If the person is complaining about a specific employee or staffer, talk to that person about the event. If the attack has to do with a product, talk to the supplier and determine if this is a common complaint.

As you research, get as much specific data as you possibly can. Look for dates, times, names, prices and locations. All of those facts can help you to combat a rumor, and that might shut the attack down, pronto.

Step 2: Block the Attacker

Once you’ve gathered your data, block the attacker from writing on your page. You’re about to go public with your side of the story, and you want to make sure that your responses don’t become opportunities to launch new and annoying secondary attacks. Block the original attacker, and craft a watch list of anyone who approved of the original attack.

Step 3: Issue a Response

Once you’ve created a safe space for your words, craft a comprehensive post that details exactly what happened to prompt the attack. Be as specific as you possibly can, and keep the language professional. You’re not trying to fan the flames, but you are trying to bring the truth to light.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you run a pet shop, and some of the fish you’ve sold to a customer died within a few days of transport. Your response could read something like this: “Recently, we saw posts about fish on our page, and we were just as disturbed about the issue as many of our customers were. So we did some investigation. On Saturday, this customer came to buy three fish from us, and after careful selection, we netted three healthy goldfish for him to take home. They were placed in a plastic bag with water at 65 degrees F. The customer was told to take the fish home and put them into his aquarium within 30 minutes, floating the bag for at least an hour before releasing the fish. The customer signed an agreement to follow the rules. But the customer left his fish in the bag for an hour in a warm car, and then did not float the fish in the bag. We’re distressed that these fish died, but we cannot be responsible for customer choices once they leave our store. We thank the community for ongoing support.”

This is a long post, but it’s the detail that makes the company seem reasonable and correct. The attack just seems silly now.

Step 4: Post Something Positive (and Pay for Promotions)

Once you’ve addressed the issue, create a post that has nothing at all to do with the controversy. Release a new promotional set of pricing, or share a photo of a staffer crafting something wonderful. Don’t address the original controversy anywhere at all in this post, and pay to promote it.

You’re not trying to hide the issue with this post. What you are trying to do is point out that your company is more than the terrible thing your attacker is claiming. You’re trying to remind your fans that you do good things and that people tend to like you. It’s a way to shift the conversation in a much more positive direction.

Step 5: Hide or Delete Secondary Attacks

If you see more attacks on your page, either as responses to an original attack or as new responses to new things on your page, delete those comments and block the commenter. You’ve addressed the issue already, and there’s no need to keep repeating your innocence. Simply delete, block and move on.

Step 6: Repeat as Necessary

Hopefully, with this approach, you’ll neutralise the original attack and get your page moving in the right direction. But it’s possible that you’ll see new attacks in the weeks and months that follow. If you do, follow this same set of steps to clean up the damage. And be sure to watch your page closely, so you’ll see new attacks as soon as they start.

To learn more, download our ebook Media Intelligence for Crisis Communications.



This article was written by Jean Dion from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.