There is no doubt that almost all businesses face significant risks when it comes to social media, even more so when they are already mired in complex litigation.

Handling negative social media is the last thing that business owners want to do while they navigate complicated litigation and keep their business running. However, it is still critical for California business owners to understand how they can handle negative social media and press, so they can mitigate the risks and losses they might face outside of litigation as well.

ANSWER THE NEGATIVE POST THOUGHTFULLY

The last thing that businesses should do is ignore negative posts on social media – especially if they go viral. Business owners should treat negative social media just like any other negative press. They should also take it just as seriously.

News can spread quickly on social media. Therefore, it is necessary to respond to these posts in a timely and thoughtful fashion. This does not have to cause business owners more stress during litigation, as long as they make a plan in advance. This plan should include:

  • Assigning a public relations representative to speak for the business. This person is assigned to handle negative press effectively;
  • Having the representative monitor social media and newsfeeds to supervise the business’ reputation and act quickly; and
  • Creating a strategy for how they will respond to negative press in different situations with facts and civility.

That way, businesses can address negative press as soon as possible.

MANAGE THE DETAILS PRIVATELY

Businesses should address the negative press publicly. This demonstrates that businesses are personally handling these issues and still focused on maintaining consumer trust – regardless of lawsuits.

However, businesses can still find resolutions to this issue in a private setting, as long as they make a public statement after the issues are resolved.

WEIGH THE RISKS BEFORE TAKING LEGAL ACTION

CNBC reported in October 2019 that business owners can take legal action against individuals if their negative social media posts – or in this case, reviews – lead to considerable losses and damage for the business.

However, most consumer reactions online are protected by the First Amendment. This includes negative posts and even the online movement promoting the boycott of Backcountry.com’s products, which we covered in a recent blog post.

That is why businesses need to create a strategy to handle negative press effectively. Whether or not they face negative press when dealing with a lawsuit, a social media plan will help businesses preserve their reputation.