I skimmed through an article today about the importance of making sure your social media team is also well versed in public relations. My first thought was, “Well, crap. Someone else got to it before I did.” It’s alright though. It just lit the fire under my butt to write it myself. Every person’s experience is different, right? Right.
Names and company names will be changed (or eliminated) here to protect the…. less than innocent.
I offer my social media services in different ways. I can be the person who hovers over your different social media platforms and pats you on the back when you do something great. I will also tell you when you’re wrong. But in this role – I’m pretty much hands off. Merely a consultant.
Then there are the clients that I do everything for. All of their marketing. I look for trade shows that would be good for them. I’m the voice at the end of their client’s line. I do all of their social media, including engagement, etc…
Well – I do all of it until they decide they want to muck things up a bit. And here’s where the fun begins. Social media is…. well… it’s social. And so, it involves many things – one of which is emotion. There’s something to be said for being transparent (some of the time.) However, when being attacked by what seems to have been coined as “haters” – you HAVE to let that slide (to a certain extent.) There’s a lot of ambiguity in the last two sentences so let me clarify by using an example.
One of my clients was recently targeted by a group of people. They claimed his business practices were less than ethical. Let me start by saying I wouldn’t work for such a client. While he may not always be the brightest crayon in the box (hey, I keep it real) – he’s not morally or ethically inept.
So let’s call my client “Bob” – because that seems to be what I like to call my clients (ADD moment: All clients, male or female, from this point forward – will be called Bob. I like Office Space. What can I say?) Bob used to do business with another entity – a not-for-profit. This group and he parted ways in one of the least amicable ways possible. I knew things would blow up – and they did. An anti-Bob Facebook page was started. The anti-Bobs started harassing the Bob fans on his Facebook page. Bob was called a thief, a liar, all sorts of nonsense. It was a PR disaster. It got so bad that it warranted being addressed, in a non-emotional, only the facts, ma’am sort of way, on his Facebook page. And so, I did. I gathered the facts and I wrote the letter. I knew Bob was far too emotional to do so himself. The letter was working exactly as it was supposed to. It had a reach of over 15,000 people by the time it was all said and done. His following, at the time, was only around 4,500. About 95% of the comments that came as a result to that letter were positive, uplifting messages about how Bob helped them or someone they knew. Woo-hoo! Success!!
And then Bob’s family and marriage started coming under (written) attack from the anti-Bobs. Keep in mind, this whole time, Bob was replying back to their hateful posts, then I’d call him and tell him to take them down. Down they came. Next day – same thing. It was like babysitting a toddler for a week and a half of my life. “Bob, ignore them. They’re trying to get a response out of you and you keep feeding them exactly what they want.” “Ok, Amber. You’re right.” Next day – any guesses? Yes. Same game. I was one worn out shit storm stopper by the end of that week.
After a long conversation with Bob about what PR is and how his fans were viewing him because of his emotional outbursts toward the anti-Bobs – he chilled. He got it. Finally!
If I had been someone else, say just a Facebook poster… this story would have a much different ending. He’s called and thanked me more times than I can count – telling me that if it weren’t for me, he’d be out of business. Thirteen plus years in Marketing AND PR prepared me for what I handled. If you’ve hired someone that can post on Facebook and Twitter and make it look nice, but doesn’t have any sort of background in marketing or PR, please… PLEASE…. for the love of….. well, Bob….. think about switching it up. It’s not all about the posts. It’s about being knowledgeable, implementation, engagement, staying one step ahead of the game – and if worst comes to worst – putting out fires.
Fire Marshal Amber…. “Let me show ya something.”