Building an online community takes a lot of work. While many companies are engaging with their customers online, not all of them have a dedicated community manager in charge of their various social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and their blog.

So what happens when your online community suddenly turns into an online complaints department with unhappy clients airing your dirty laundry for all to see? Or worse yet – if you made a huge mistake by posting a comment that upset your community? One of the worst things that can happen is waking up to a flurry of e-mails, Facebook posts and Tweets from fans and followers attacking you.

Here’s what you can do to recover:

  • Start rebuilding trust: If you did something wrong (such as launching a product that hasn’t been properly tested or you made inappropriate comments on these platforms) – acknowledge it and apologise. You don’t have to grovel incessantly – but make sure your community members know that you are aware of the situation and that you’ll be working around the clock to fix it. Reply to valid complaints and make their problem your own problem to rebuild trust.
  • Learn from your mistake: One of the most important things about community management is building a solid foundation. Are your employees going to be replying to tweets or will you have a dedicated community manager? Learn from the mistakes you made and set out a list of procedures and rules – who deals with complaints? Who’s monitoring your brand online? Make sure there are clear job specifications.
  • Educate yourself: You can’t tweet blindly, without any concrete goals. Educate yourself on how community managers go about building engaging communities and mimic their strategies. Active communities don’t get built overnight, which is why you need a clear plan to create a meaningful online community for your fans and followers.

Need a community manager in South Africa? Contact WSI for social media and community management.