When Reputation Management Goes Bad

Can you learn good reputation management from bad reputation management? Not exactly, but you can learn exactly what not to do with a few examples of some reputation management horror stories!

J.P. Morgan Learns that Opening Up for Any and All Questions Can Be a Bad Idea

Back in 2013, J.P. Morgan wanted to improve its corporate image with the public, and felt that a great way to do that would be to invite executive Jimmy Lee to answer questions via Twitter. Although the intentions were good, when you’re a large company that’s just been hit with a massive fine on account of the financial crisis and you’re struggling to dig out from some questionable social responsibility issues, you may get more than you bargained for.

After being inundated with questions about that huge fine, insults and all manner of responses, the team decided it was a better idea to cancel the open Q&A, retreat and try again another day.

What you can learn from this: Be prepared for any and all questions if you want to open up the stage. If not, encourage users to submit questions on a specific topic or pre-screen them before you respond to keep the situation from spiraling out of control. It’s also critical to understand that the public’s perception of your company may be markedly different than your perception of your company. If sentiment is skewed against you, now might not be the best time to open the floodgates to all kinds of questions from agitated users or customers.

American Airlines Learns that Automating Your Replies Can Be a Terrible Mistake

A seemingly innocent “thank you for your support” message to a disgruntled flyer caused a storm of controversy for American Airlines, which had tried to manage its social media using an automated system. It only inflamed users by not only sending the wrong message, but dismissing their concern or complaint with an automated reply.

What you can learn from this: In social media especially, communication is a two-way street. You have to be open to customer feedback (even if it’s bad), and respond in a way that’s appropriate for your brand — because the world is watching. 

Hotel Management Learns the Hard Way that Threats Are Not Tolerated

On Yelp, many hotels, bed-and-breakfasts and other service businesses rely heavily on reviews from customers. But One Union Street Guest House in New York includes a fine print note in their check-in contract that they can charge guests a $500 fine if the guests leave a negative review for the hotel on Yelp.

The backlash was (understandably) palpable and the company now has slightly over a 1 star rating on the review site as a result. Although a majority of that can be attributed to the ludicrous notion of a fine, having something ridiculous in their contract certainly isn’t doing them any reputation favors.

What you can learn from this: Reviews are the lifeblood of service industry businesses. It’s understandable that they want to do everything they can to avoid bad reviews. But how about, just maybe, offering exceedingly good customer service? If you’re feeling overwhelmed and feel like your customer support is suffering, help is just a click away! 

Admonishing Users for Bad Habits…When Those Users Helped Bail You Out

Chase was one of several companies that received a bailout from taxpayers during the financial crisis. In one tweet they harmlessly labeled #MondayMotivation, the company admonished users for bad spending habits.

Imagine a user asking, “why is my bank account balance so low?” while the bank account notes things like buying gourmet coffee, eating out and taking a cab as little things that can add up quickly. Now imagine that same customer resigned to being oblivious… “I guess we’ll never know”. And the bank account reacting incredulously, “Seriously?”

It sounds like a good response for a money-saving blog or similar website, but a bank that just got a $25 billion dollar cash infusion from the very people it’s haranguing on can leave a bitter taste in people’s mouths.

What you can learn from this: This is a prime example of “open mouth, insert foot.” Look carefully at your own business before you even jokingly rib your users. Even if you think it’s harmless or funny, they might not, so tread carefully where humor is concerned! 

Could These Social Faux Pas Have Been Avoided?

One thing that all of these social media missteps have in common is that they all could have been avoided with a smart social media management strategy. Sometimes, it takes a fresh set of eyes to step in, assess the situation, and put the brakes on the plan before it spins out of control.

With that being said, social media is a formidable beast, and managing all of those accounts can be a lot for a small business (or even an enterprise company as you’ve seen here) to wrangle. If you need a smart, understanding and engaging social media marketing team to make sure your brand voice is always on point, always relevant and always focused on putting the customer first, get in touch with us and send us a message, and make sure your business doesn’t end up on a list like this!

 

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