There have been some high profile cases of where social media has gone dramatically wrong for some big international brands. Vodafone, Shell, Nestle… the list goes on. For some people this has been reason enough for them to either not use the medium or to do so with intense caution. But is this justified? What actually can go wrong with using social media?
When you put yourself out to public tender, and allow everyone access to your company, you immediately have a privacy risk. Whereas before you could hide bad PR and unhappy customers and hope they did not spread their discontent too widely by word-of-mouth, a bad customer experience can now reach thousands and thousands of people instantly. That does pose significant risk to a company, but how do you prevent a risk from turning into a crisis?
The most obvious answer is to offer a good product or service! But even then, not everyone will be happy. A crisis will never occur on social media if you handle the first uttering of dissatisfaction correctly. Consumers in 2013 are savvy to digital media, they realise that mistakes can happen but it is how you respond to the initial situation that will determine if you have a crisis. If you approach the customer with politeness and informed advice, you will never have a crisis. Even if that customer persists to slander your business, you will have been viewed to have dealt with the situation professionally by everyone else.
Your PR will always improve if you handle situations online swiftly and politely. A crisis only occurs if you get it wrong.