It’s easy to be a front-runner, especially in business. When times are good, product is flying off the shelves, and everyone has glowing things to say about you, nobody has a problem reveling in the limelight. But can you do the same when the dark clouds roll in? Can you respond well and stay true to yourself amid adversity?
Of course, we all hope there will be more good times than bad. But business is cyclical and this makes it critical to maintain your online presences through thick and thin.
A coaching expression is to never get too high after a win or too down after a loss. This is great advice that goes well beyond the playing field. Businesses need to learn to be even-keeled and maintain a consistent brand no matter how things are going. The following three tips will help you achieve that and ensure that your followers always get a consistent message.
Apologize When Necessary
At some point, you are going to do something that generates negative feedback from all channels. It’s inevitable, and it will quite likely be your own fault. But even knowing this, many companies are hesitant to admit mistakes. They fear acknowledging a problem makes it real and will convince future customers to go somewhere else. But that is usually the wrong attitude. While consumers can be harsh, most don’t actually expect perfection. They understand that mistakes do happen. They just want someone to recognize when they have screwed up and honestly say they are sorry.
In many cases, this is enough for a customer to forgive and, importantly, forget. They will gladly accept a public apology on Twitter or Instagram and then happily buy your product and service again the next time. So don’t be afraid to offer an apology. It worked well for KFC — and even got the chicken maker some free press. One last thing to remember: If you throw in some sort of “make good” as a discount on the next item or a freebie for their trouble, that may even earn you more goodwill than if you had just gotten it right the first time.
Focus on Facts
Social media is a harsh, harsh world. People can be nasty and you will inevitably catch heat from some unsatisfied customers or simply onlookers who can’t get enough of rumor mongering. How do you respond? Should you even respond? In cases of purely ad hominem attacks, silence can be the right approach. If they aren’t even making any claims other than saying “this company sucks!” then there is probably little to be gained from engaging.
But other cases include purely fictional accusations that will just dangle out there in the wind forever if you don’t be proactive. The tone of the response, however, will prove critical for how you are perceived. Amway does this well, for example, by never lashing out against critics who resort to attacks and make up claims that Amway is a scam. The direct sales company always maintains a professional and courteous stance, simply pointing consumers toward the ample evidence and information on its blog and social media channels that refute bogus claims.
This Too Shall Pass
Having the right mentality will be crucial to surviving bad times. On social media — or even in the traditional media world if you’re big enough to receive real press — there is always a fall guy of the day. At some point, it’s going to be your turn. If you turn into a puddle and start to panic, that will only make things worse.
Instead, you need to weather the storm, stay optimistic, respond appropriately as necessary and then duck and cover until it passes. Again, in some cases it really will be your fault and you must apologize and work to make things better. But especially if the gaffe is small, simply having the right organizational outlook will do wonders for how you are perceived long term — and for your own mental health.
Riding the Ups and Downs
They say the stock market is like a roller coaster. All the ups and downs make for a wild ride. But they also make millionaires! If there was simply a steady upwards track, beating the market would be easy and we would all be riding around in Ferraris.
The same goes for business — as any entrepreneur and startup founder can attest. There will be good days. And there will be bad days. The key is maintaining as much of a steady head as possible.
If you make a mistake, make sure you apologize. If you receive unfair criticism, respond back with professionalism and facts. And through it all, be sure to keep your head and understand that negativity isn’t forever.
This is what leadership is all about. Nobody has ever gotten to the top of a mountain without a few setbacks. But with the enough determination and drive — and the right mentality — you will make it work through thick and thin.
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