You Can’t Outrun a Bear — Tale of Poor Online Reputation Management
This article is out of the normal format and off schedule, but I wanted to address a seemingly common issue in today’s society with companies of all sizes — online reputation management. Over the weekend, an incident occurred at a local nightclub in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. A group of African American patrons were supposedly turned away, while Caucasian club-goers were permitted into the club. The story of this incident has gone viral and thousands of negative posts and reviews are circulating the Internet across the country. In response to this story going viral, the club has made three VERY big mistakes in its handling of the situation. Let’s take a look at these mistakes.
The incident took place over 24 hours ago, and yet there has been no statement posted to the club’s website or social media accounts. When facing this type of backlash, the very first thing a company should do is acknowledge an incident occurred. I did not say, acknowledge and immediately take responsibility, I said acknowledge that an incident occurred. And be sure to post the acknowledgement on your website and each social media account. You simply want to let customers (and potential customers) know that you are aware of the incident, and you’re looking into it. Here’s an example statement:
We are aware of the incident that took place [date / time] outside of our establishment. We are investigating the situation, and will take any appropriate action. We do not discriminate against any group of individual and we are working to get to the bottom of this incident as quickly as possible.
This statement is short, sweet and to the point. You want to acknowledge that you know what has occurred, you will look into it, you will take action if necessary, and under no circumstance do you discriminate against anyone. End with your dedication to quickly resolving the situation.
This is America, and in America, we have certain rights and liberties. Deleting comments or removing the ability for people to have a voice to protest what they see as an injustice, is un-American. I promise you, people will post negative comments. And after everything has blown over and the situation has been remedied, you can remove the posts. But while you are in the thick of it, do not silence your critics. Removing their voice will enrage them even more (and rightfully so). You need to focus on investigating the situation, and determining a solution. Companies don’t go out of business because they messed up, they go out of business because they didn’t clean up their mess properly.
Putting up a Fake Review on Yelp
As with deleting comments, adding fake reviews on Yelp, to compensate for the influx of negative reviews, is again, un-American. While in the thick of things, let the reviews exist. You have bigger fish to fry. When everything settles down, go out to these reviews and describe the resolution. Yes, there could be thousands of reviews to respond to, but you will need to respond to each and every one. Why? Because it is the right thing to do.
I don’t know if the bouncer did anything wrong or not because I don’t have all of the facts. What I do know, is that this nightclub made three very big mistakes and completely mishandled the situation. I hope things work out for this club, it looks like a nice club. But in order to keep things together, they need to change their course, quick, fast, and in a hurry. You may not think online reputation management is important. But maintaining a strong reputation on social media is probably the most important thing you can do for your company.