January 24, 2020

Our True Social Media Horror Story

Our True Social Media Horror Story

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can all be used very effectively for marketing and connecting with your customers.  Even the newer platforms like TikTok can be used effectively, you just have to figure out how.  When clients use these channels to communicate, there simply has to be someone monitoring them all of the time. You will see why shortly…

At Expivia, we have reps whose focus is monitoring the digital channels for multiple companies. For some of our larger companies, we have been able to use NICE inContact to integrate their digital presence so it’s just like any other service channel. But, for others that are not integrated, our reps are watching their digital presence.  When a company’s name is mentioned, the agents are there to respond to questions or issues and engage with customers when needed. These reps have specific protocols for many different situations, and they handle any issues quickly and efficiently.  

Digital marketing and social media can be awesome, but they can also be ridiculously scary. Expivia is a 24/7 center, so there are reps literally monitoring all of the digital platforms for our clients at all hours.  These reps also watch Expivia’s digital presence;  it’s a good thing they do.  

So it begins…

Around 3:30 on the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, I was woken up to the sound of my phone going crazy with alerts; then it rang. When your phone rings in the middle of the night, especially after all of those alerts, it’s safe to assume it’s not a good thing. This was no exception.  One of my reps quickly tells me that it looks like our Expivia Facebook page is under attack. Lots of people are posting terrible things and leaving zero-star reviews. He wants me to look at it, and then tell him how to respond. We have protocols, but this page is my baby. They want to know how I want this handled.

As we get off the phone ten minutes later, I see that there are around 200 people who have been really busy on our Facebook page posting really derogatory, vulgar reviews. I was flabbergasted.  Why?? We try to do everything really well for our clients and customers.  I try to help anybody who needs it.  What was going on??

The Plot Thickens

As I began to read, it started to come together. A former employee had “Works at Expivia Interaction Marketing” still listed on her Facebook profile, even though she had not been with us in more than a year. Apparently, she’d posted some dumb stuff on her Timeline after a bad experience in a retail store. Her comments were not terrible, but she also included a photo of the person who was trying to help her. 

Obviously, that person took offense. She told her side of the story on social media and showed the original post. Her post spread like wildfire on lots of social media channels. Since the former employee’s information was readily available, all of these angry people saw that she supposedly worked for us. They didn’t know she’d been gone for a year, but sent as much negativity as possible our way–just to get her fired.

Ratings Take a Beating

Her “friends” took our Facebook rating from a 4.8/5 to less than 1.0 in a matter of minutes. We take a lot of pride in the real, natural ratings we work hard to earn. These 200+ angry people begin posting horrible things in our review section, canceling the good ones out like they were nothing. After hitting the review section, they turned their collective attention towards the posts on the page. 

Our page is more for employee engagement than it is for marketing.  We had just posted the winners from our Black Friday employee motivation, including how much money was handed out; only to be completely desecrated by more than 150 vile comments. Pictures of our reps and their children were not spared; every post had more tons of new, horrible comments. They literally defiled Every. Single. Post.

Messenger Assault

Then came the Facebook Messenger assault. Because this is MY page, all of those nasty messages were coming directly into my phone. It was very disturbing. These people wanted to hurt her and get her fired but didn’t care what it would do to this business. It was a total kick in the gut. At the time I was totally panicked. This happens to clients and we deal with it. But, when it happens to you, it feels very personal.

Facebook was Awesome

Facebook has its own protocols where we can dispute reviews–especially ones like these that are crude and attacking. Facebook was actually awesome to work with. We could have hidden them by removing our Reviews section, but that was never really an option for me.  Facebook very quickly got all of the reviews removed.

If you’ve never dealt with this before, your first reaction would probably be to respond by putting up a post defending your business.  That’s one of the worst things you can do. Don’t engage. When something has gone this far off the rails, there is really nothing you can do from an organizational standpoint.

Instead, as quickly as you can, dispute the actions with Facebook.  We reported it immediately and it was cleaned up almost instantly. It was easy for them to see that the reviews had nothing to do with our business and were wholly inappropriate; they removed them quickly.

Then, our reps got to work.  We had them go into the page and start going through every post to delete the comments that were part of the smear campaign. If potential clients saw that mess on the page, they would have probably run for the hills. That night, there were about 350 people banned from our Expivia page. In about two and a half hectic hours our zero-rating and every horrible post were cleaned up and our page returned to normal. Using our own protocols showed me that we are doing things right. 

We are not a big organization with only 500 seats.  We’re not a Fortune 500 company.  Those bigger companies could have weathered this storm much better than we would have. For places that big, those comments and reviews would have gotten lost. This kind of attack can destroy some smaller companies, which just reiterates why you have to watch your digital channels.

It is horrible when this happens.  It is totally out of your control. You must have a plan in place to fix the problem. This is why we monitor our clients’ digital channels: to watch for attacks.  They can come from anywhere about anything: a faulty product, rude customer service, a problem with a specific employee, or a negative run-in with someone in a store.  Those people will post negative comments on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram–everywhere.

In the end, we got through our own social media horror story.  We survived it. Everything is good. We’re used to handling these things…for other people. I’m just glad we had good protocols in place to fix this taxing ordeal. Take this true story to heart.  Use it to protect your clients, their customers, and your call center.

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