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Go Pro: Take Your Social Media Issues Management from Reactive to Proactive

So you’ve studied up on social media for pet brands, and more specifically, how to be aware of viral posts so you can go into issues management mode. You know in this digital age that you can’t afford to be antisocial, so you’re following best practices for responding to customers when they complain on your Facebook page, @ you on Twitter or post negative product reviews on Instagram.

You’ve got a sound game plan — but that’s not enough to make your brand a true champion. For long-term success, you also need a more proactive approach to issues management rather than a reactive stance. After all, you can’t rise above the competition when you’re constantly on the defense.

Reactive to proactive issues management GIF

Going pro won’t eliminate your need to react to social media issues, but it will certainly make it easier to win over fans in the midst of a crisis situation. With the right combination of content strategy and distribution, your brand can reap the benefits of going pro: building trust in your audience and diminishing the impact of issues when they do arise.

To Establish Authority, Tackle Hot Topics Head-On

One of the dangers of a reactive mindset is that it makes brands afraid to broach certain topics. Ask any social media manager what they’d never post about on one of their managed channels, and they’ll surely have a list of taboos, like the negatives of raw feeding or how to cope with your dog’s gastrointestinal issues.

All of these topics may seem out of bounds because by posting them on social, you run the risk of fans running amuck in the comments, smack-talking your brand. But down the line when you’re dealing with a viral post about a particularly bad case of doggy diarrhea or the like, you’ll wish you had put out that blog about possible causes of digestive distress.

When you don’t seed your channels with solutions-oriented content that broaches hot topics, you have nothing to rely on when you need it most: in the face of a related issue. Share the content proactively, and it will feel more authentic when you leverage it later.

Ensure Your Content Types Are Digestible

When you’re ready to tackle those previously off-limits topics in your content, you should also take a step back and think about how you’ll tackle them.

Proactive content must be shareable on social media, both in terms of function (e.g., sized for the appropriate platform) and user experience (e.g., easily understood by your target audience).

This means you have to explore different formats to ensure your proactive content is digestible. Maybe white papers have been your primary means of communicating with your customers — but it’s time to translate those into more bite-sized checklists, blog posts or e-blasts. More technical topics might be better understood when distilled into visual formats, like infographics or short videos.

Food Storage Infographic; an example of a proactive tool used in issues management

Think about your audience and what sorts of content they engage with most on your social channels, then adjust, test and refine your content strategy as needed to maximize performance.

Reevaluate Distribution to Perfect Your Playbook

Speaking of your audience, you have to be sure that your proactive content is actually reaching them. It’s not just the how to consider, but also the where and when.

If you have a sizeable sea of complaints on Twitter and your brand doesn’t have a presence there, it might be time to sign up, start responding and seed the channel with your proactive posts. Maybe you need third-party support in the form of influencers, bloggers or media to sow your content (after all, consumers trust other sources more than brands). Or you might tap in to Facebook groups to distribute your content to pet-obsessed consumers.

You should also evaluate how often you share your content. Thanks to algorithm changes, a one-and-done approach won’t work. Your content is bound to get lost if it’s only shared upon publication. Share it strategically by studying when certain questions or complaints have arisen historically. Review analytics to see what percentage of your audience actually sees and engages with your content, then consider paid social tactics to further amplify key content. Put equal efforts into proactive content creation and distribution to ensure your proactivity pays off.

Your Bench Is Deeper Than You Think

This all might seem like a lot to execute, but chances are your roster is already there — you just need to bring key players to the huddle. Talk to your PR, social media, marketing, customer service, sales reps and even retailers to get a sense of what questions they’re fielding constantly. Create a prioritized list of what issues you need to center content around, then use more insights from those key players, like when and where these questions arise, to refine your content and distribution strategies.

And hey, if you need a backup QB, we’re here to offer our expertise.