Karina Ortiz Columnista

Crisis in social networks: the nightmare of the PR

In social networks, words spread quickly and, in a matter of hours, a publication can attract the attention of millions of users. Fast-paced weather like this can cause irreparable reputational damage to companies in the blink of an eye.

In this context, the most common triggers that give rise to negative comments include controversial campaigns or practices by organizations, failures in their communication, defective products or not meeting the expectations of their audiences, that is, not doing what is expected. says. When this happens, the situation can quickly snowball and, in a matter of minutes, a negative comment can rally the support of a large number of people, opening the doors to imminent chaos.

To this is added the media coverage that also plays an important role. Without the influence of the media, a wave of negative comments could be dealt with without much impact to the company. However, if the event goes viral to the point of capturing the interest of the media, additional pressure is generated that is much more difficult to reverse.

Faced with this scenario, a digital reputation crisis can be divided into three stages that mark the beginning, the turning point and the end:

Previous phase. At this stage, the number and tone of comments on the different social channels do not show anomalies.

acute phase. This is when the event begins to attract an unusual amount of negative comment. This generally coincides with the attention of the media, which further enhances the viralization of the issue. Once the hurricane has passed, if there are no more events that continue to cause public rejection, there will be a decrease and the end of the acute phase.

later phase. It occurs when, although the crisis begins to dissipate and the comments return to their normal rhythm, the fact remains because we remember that the Internet does not forget and when something explodes online, the evidence remains forever.

With the speed so characteristic of social networks, it is often impossible for the recipient to stop those small waves of criticism before they become a tsunami. And while there’s no foolproof way to avoid these disasters, there are some recommended communication guidelines that make it easy to ride the wave:

Keep calm and analyze the situation. In the face of a digital reputation crisis, companies tend to overreact or instinctively, so it is important to assess the situation and ask yourself: is it really a serious case? Is the criticism justified? What options are there to appease them?

Avoid censoring reviews. Reactions such as deleting spam comments or turning off commenting features should be avoided. Companies further damage their image when they try to cover up negative user reviews.

Take criticism seriously and admit mistakes. When a company is at fault they usually try to evade but when the facts speak for themselves, denying them will not stop the reactions on social networks. Much less keep silent or reject responsibility, that will only unnecessarily prolong or aggravate the situation. To get out of the line of fire as smoothly as possible, it is recommended that companies acknowledge their failures and discuss the possible consequences without trying to excuse them.

Open and clear communication. If the company’s reputation has been damaged, absolute transparency is the most effective way, and probably the only way, to restore the trust of the public.

If companies are capable of responding in a timely manner, admitting their mistakes openly and honestly, they can even emerge stronger from a digital reputation crisis. But of course, you have to be willing to surf the wave to reach the shore.

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