The 3 Social Media Essentials in Crisis Communications for National Restaurant Chains
National restaurant chains have many advantages, but a significant disadvantage lies in the fact that what happens in one restaurant reflects on all. If you’ve watched helplessly while breastfeeding crises at other restaurant chains exploded into media firestorms or weeks of negative press, you might wonder how you would handle such a situation yourself. You’d be right to wonder, because how a restaurant responds to a breastfeeding crisis may have far-reaching repercussions for its brand image and future success.
Whether an employee actually violates a nursing mother’s rights, embarrasses her, or puts the company in an awkward position by inventing a “corporate policy” on the spot, it benefits national restaurant chains to be able to respond proactively to breastfeeding crises that might otherwise damage the brand. The best way to do this is to institute guidelines before disaster strikes, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to handle it. Whether you have breastfeeding and employee lactation policies or not there are social media guidelines that can help you focus on managing your reputation and moving on.
In the following three steps, you will discover how to show your customers, employees and investors that you value the 3 Essentials of Social Media: you are listening, you care and you are responsive. When your customers get this from you, they will repay you with continuing loyalty, even in the face of scandal.
1. Respond Immediately
Although it is tempting to go silent while you piece together what just happened and try to figure out how to respond, don’t. This gives anyone who wants to make you look bad a golden opportunity to trash you and your brand while you seemingly sit idly by. Instead, use your social media networks to become intimately involved in the conversation. By responding immediately, you respect the First Essential of Social Media and show that you are listening. Rather than simply checking out and expecting your customers to keep giving you business no matter what, you need to show them you care about what they think, how they feel, and the ways they respond to your actions.
2. Respond Authentically
Although having a response template in place will help you figure out how to quickly respond to negative comments and questions on social media, use it naturally to inform your responses rather than cutting and pasting. Respond to individual comments, refer to commenters by name and don’t fight dirty. This is your opportunity to show that you care, and if you fail to communicate that, you will only prove to your detractors that you are as cold and unfeeling as they claim. Keep in mind that breastfeeding is a sensitive issue and that comments concerning mothers and babies should come off as gentle yet casual, lest you be accused of taking too firm a stance. Consider hiring a breastfeeding advocate trained in crisis communications to help you strike the right tone.
3. Respond Often
A lack of engagement on your end, even if you’ve already shared your company’s policy and feelings on the subject, will be correctly interpreted as unresponsiveness. The Third Essential of Social Media demands that you prove the opposite, that you are responsive. Instead of posting a comment or two and calling it good, or only surfacing when you have new information, check back regularly with commenters. Respond calmly and respectfully to their thoughts, and let them know when you’re waiting on more information. Doing so will do much to defuse tensions.
Your social media responses tell your customers, employees and investors a lot about your dedication to your company and your brand. By ignoring the 3 Social Media Essentials, you only expose yourself to more criticism, scrutiny and loss of revenue. By responding immediately, authentically and often, however, you increase your chances of positively managing a breastfeeding crisis, perhaps even improving your social standing with a display of confidence and corporate moral character.