Community Management Tool, Social Report, Shut Down by Facebook: What They Can Do to Build Back Trust
How an organization handles itself in times of crisis says a lot more than what it does when everything is working as it should. Instead of stepping up in troubled times, many organizations shy away from controversy, leaving their customers alone to deal with the aftermath.
When communication breaks down, so does trust. The community management tool, Social Report may have to learn that lesson the hard way.
About two weeks ago, a company known as HYP3R was found to be secretly scraping data from Instagram and storing it on their own private servers. It then repackaged that information–including users’ locations, bio information, photos, and IG Stories content (which is intended to be deleted after 24 hours)–to sell to advertisers.
Coming just a couple years after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which involved political entities using scraped data for political campaigns, this latest case caused a backlash when word hit the public in the middle of August.
Fast-forward to the end of last week. Facebook released a statement, saying that HYP3R’s actions violated Facebook’s Terms of Service and that they are currently reviewing hundreds of their official Facebook Marketing Partners to look for similar offenders.
Facebook Removes Posts Scheduled Through Social, Triggering Panic
In the wake of this announcement, users of a community management tool known as “Social Report” logged into Facebook on Friday to learn that any post scheduled through the platform had been removed from their page, and we’re not just talking about content scheduled for future posting. Facebook has stripped every social update, boosted post, or media scheduled through the platform from existence.
Social Report bills itself as “The World’s Most Complete Social Media Management Platform” and is an easy-to-use, cost effective tool that provides post scheduling, social listening, analytics, and reporting capabilities to its users for $50-200 per month, with packages for small businesses, larger companies, and agencies/enterprises.
The closed Facebook group, Angry Social Report Users, which currently has over 100 members, was created to help offer solutions to the customers scrambling to provide service to their clients. Here, you can also find the horror stories from Social Report users who have been left in the lurch:
One customer was running a “vote for your favorite” campaign that garnered hundreds of submissions. All that data, as well as the photos submitted on the thread, is officially gone.
Other users are wondering if their posts will ever return, including marketers whose customers have spent thousands on boosted posts and paid not only for social media support but ad spend as well. All of that engagement from those campaigns? Poof. Disappeared into thin air.
And, if you think that’s bad, Rebecca might be experiencing the second worst PR nightmare for a company (well, excluding Social Report, that is).
A massive PR announcement, including all 1000 comments with responses from the business… gone.
These are just some of the comments from Social Report’s customers, but they are more than enough to paint the picture of what these users have been going through during the last few days.
Social Report’s Response
And what has been Social Report’s response to all this? Take a look at this representative’s reply to a dissatisfied customer in the Angry Social Report Users Facebook group:
Basically, Social Report’s strategy has to shift blame, but “It’s not our fault; it’s Facebook,” just isn’t going to cut it. Your customers need to know what YOU are doing to fix the problem. There are plenty of things you could be doing right now to alleviate some of the stress that the situation is putting on your customers.
11 Steps Social Report SHOULD HAVE Taken (and Still Could Do) to Manage a Crisis
Social Report’s users have been wronged. They signed up for a service and trusted a company to handle this aspect of their business. Now, these agencies that depend on Social Report must explain to their clients why social media posts have disappeared, why they’ve failed to deliver on their own promises.
It doesn't matter how this mess got made. It matters what you are doing RIGHT NOW to fix the situation and provide a stop-gap solution until it's resolved. #MichaelsWilder #socialreportfail Click To Tweet
They’ve gotten a raw deal. That much is certain. However, Social Report’s response has made this awful situation even worse. While Social Report says there’s nothing to be done, that isn’t true, and I’ll tell you why: It’s because the buck stops with you.
It doesn’t matter how this mess got made. It matters what you are doing RIGHT NOW to fix the situation and provide a stop-gap solution until it’s resolved. If Social Report called Michaels Wilder up to handle their crisis management, these are the recommendations we would have made to mitigate the harm done to your customers and provide the support they deserve:
1. Immediately initiate an internal crisis team.
A crisis means all hands on deck. If you are a janitor, put down the mop. Coach is putting you in. Pick a point person who is ready to manage each of the initiatives that need to be implemented to make sure your customers are on board and feel comfortable with the effort you are making to resurrect the massive outage.
2. STOP ALL SCHEDULED POSTS.
This is business 101. Posts like the one below that brag about your status as the “#2 social media tool” is not what your customers want to see. It signals to your customers that your organization is not taking the issue seriously. Stopping scheduled posts across every social platform is your first actionable step.
3. Find a tool to set up social listening and monitoring key words.
A crisis doesn’t last forever, but will your customers? Assign a resource to dive head first into the fray on any and every platform. It will be this person’s responsibility to respond to each and every mention of your organization’s name. Social Report could be the greatest platform in the world, but that doesn’t matter. Losing users in the short-term is bad, but abandoning your users during a crisis for users is much, much worse.
This lack of involvement in managing customer expectations will influence future potential users to steer clear of your platform, not just because of the inconvenience of the situation but because of their emotional response to being abandoned in their time of need. Customers are humans, and steady, constant communication helps ease people’s worries. They too, are going through what might be the most devastating situation that their business has ever faced.
4. Schedule live Facebook sessions with the CEO.
At the top of every working hour, your CEO should give a direct update to your users via live stream. At minimum, there should be 8 live CEO sessions that provide updates on the situation and information on what the crisis management teams are doing to reach a resolution.
I know already that some people would shy away from this valuable recommendation because they are afraid of the questions that may come. However, the job of the CEO is to be the face of the company, and they need to have confidence in their business to face the situation directly.
Social Report’s official stance is that they’ve done nothing wrong (as shown below), so the best way to show that is to put themselves on display and make themselves available to their users.
5. Set up a Twitter live stream of the office.
This is reality TV. Everything you do from now until this problem is solved will be scrutinized, and you don’t want to leave people wondering what you were doing during this time. You need to show them.
While watching a room full of people typing on their computers or fielding phone calls may not seem exciting to you, there is interest in even the most boring live stream. It allows your customers to feel like they are part of the solution because they can see what is actually being done to clear this mistake and reinstate full access. Transparency is everything.
6. Find a partner through which your customers can schedule posts in the interim.
The number one concern of any business is its customers. They are the ones being affected here, and it is the company’s duty to make sure they support their base in every way possible. This is a short term solution, but it matters.
Vet other social media platforms to find one that offers a comparable user experience. This is the work that you are currently forcing your customers to do on their own, spending countless hours of time with no help from the service for which they pay up to $200 per month. They already have to handle complaints from their clients and figure out how each one has been impacted down to the fine details. They shouldn’t have to spend that time searching for platforms.*
7. Set up internal meetings from the crisis team leads.
This is important. The CEO needs to be briefed by every team lead so they can be in the know and accurately update the customer base during the top of the hour live sessions. These meetings should be scheduled at the bottom of the hour and should last no longer than 15 minutes.
8. Create a crisis FAQ page.
In a time like this, information is key. Ask your community engagement representative to create a log of commonly asked questions as they monitor social media and the live update sessions. This will be a resource that your users can always access to address the many questions they are sure to have.
Let’s be honest, just because you gave an answer in a statement, a post, or on a thread, doesn’t mean people will look for that info. Creating a hub with all the information your customers might need–including updates, answers to questions, and an official statement–is extremely important to keep your customers informed and giving them a place to go to stay informed about the situation.
I know that you maintain a thread on your website where you go to post company updates and are currently posting occasional reports on this crisis, but this is not enough. Your customers are complaining about a lack of transparency, and that should be more than enough to tell you that you have not provided them with the information they need.
9. In this situation, you are your customers’ therapist. Act like it.
Customers need to vent, and you need to get used to that real quick. Allowing your users to feel like they are being heard by a flesh-and-blood person from the organization is incredibly valuable. When people can’t get in touch with a representative from your company, they will seek out spaces to talk to others in the same situation. This quickly gets out of hand as people feed into one another’s frustrations, and it will negatively affect your ability to retain customers after the crisis.
If your company is there to personally get into it with each and every customer, you can control the narrative. If not, it can spiral out of control.
10. Re-establish your mission as a company.
During a crisis, it’s important to recommit yourselves to your original company values. This isn’t the time to back away from those ideals you set for yourselves. It’s time to double down.
Pulled directly from the “About Us” section of the Social Report website, you state your belief in “outstanding 24/7 customer support, taking all customer feedback.” This is the time to put your business values on display. Anyone can talk the talk. Now you have to walk the walk. People will remember how you conducted yourselves during this rough patch, and it will impact whether or not they can trust your brand to keep its word in the future.
11. Update the Social Report Website.
Facebook updated its list of official marketing partners, and you are no longer on it. That means you need to remove any mention of being an official Facebook and Instagram marketing partner until this issue is resolved.
You can always put it back after everything is figured out, but transparency matters. Hypothetically, there is a person who does not know anything about the current situation and might sign up for Social Report later today. If they sign up with false information, this situation could become even worse than it already is. A new user could say that they were misled by the assertion that you are an official partner on your site, which could be detrimental to any future you have envisioned for the organization.
This post has laid out the road map, not only for Social Report but for any company facing a similar crisis in the future. While not every piece of advice will be applicable to every situation, transparency and your ability to mitigate harm will be vital to retaining customers and getting out the other side of the situation with your reputation in tact.
Every one makes mistakes. What matters is how you react to those mistakes. That all starts with owning up, taking responsibility, and putting your customers above your ego.
*Disclosure – I personally have informed the members of “Angry Social Report Users” that our social automation tool, Natter Social, would be extending our 14-day free trial indefinitely during this unfortunate situation. You can read the full statement here:
Here’s that link for any Social Report users: https://ms.nattersocial.com/Bl