As more companies engage with consumers on Facebook and other forms of social media, opportunities for those interested in spreading misinformation or disparaging comments will inevitably increase. But how companies engage with and respond to these situations has just as much if not more impact on brand equity than the initial attacks themselves.
Last week, Virgin Atlantic launched an investigation of several of its own crew members who allegedly criticized the airline’s safety standards on Facebook, BrandRepubic reports. A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said in a subsequent statement,
“The airline has started an immediate disciplinary investigation. Virgin Atlantic does not tolerate any criticism of its passengers or industry-leading safety standards and is taking this matter very seriously. Safety is the airline’s top priority and we operate our fleet of aircraft in strict compliance with all manufacturers’ and safety authorities’ recommendations and regulations.”
Virgin Atlantic seems to be taking the comments about its safety procedures quite seriously. If someone posted a disparaging comment on any given message board, it’s unlikely the company would have devoted this many resources in response. Virgin Atlantic’s Facebook Page has nearly 7,000 fans, and it staffs the discussion boards on its Facebook page with active company representatives who respond to individual questions and complaints in a timely manner.
We’ll keep watching how big brands respond to “mini-crises” in the Facebook world, as best practices in corporate communications on Facebook are still being established.