How to Respond when Social Media and Rogue Employees collide

Lowe’s we have a problem. Just a few hours ago it was reported via several Instagram accounts from an anonymous tip that a Lowe’s employee and manager had posted a picture to Snapchat with the employee holding a noose. 

Picture and message to Instagram blogs:

A quick Instagram search of #lowes will bring up this image on multiple accounts. 

While we do not know if 1) this is an actual employee from Lowe’s, 2) if this is a real story, or 3) how did this get posted to an official Lowe’s Snapchat account (@Lowesdiy) as the anonymous tips states if it is true –  we do know that Lowes has a social media issue it needs to address. 

If you take a quick glance on the Lowe’s Instagram account (loweshomeimprovement) you’ll see that there are numerous comments under a few of their recent posts. Examples are as follows (although comments are being deleted quickly), please note they appear in original text uncensored:

Lowe’s has a good history with responding to user comments on any of their social media accounts. However, when it comes to handling this “social media crisis” instead of addressing users concerns or putting out a quick statement to suggest they are researching the matter, Lowe’s has been managing the situation by simply deleting user comments, seemingly making the matter worse. 

How should Lowe’s or other companies address a potential Social Media Crisis? Here are a few of ideas: 

1) Acknowledge the issue. Lowe’s is aware of this issue because they are deleting user comments. Although we do not know if this story is true or the circumstances surrounding the picture, as I stated above, Lowe’s could acknowledge that they are aware of the post and that they are working on finding out more information. Issuing a statement quickly would help them get ahead of the issue. This story started appearing 4-5 hours ago and there has not been a response. 

2) Have a plan of action. It is important that any brand that engages its consumers on social media have a plan of action in case of a crisis. The last thing you want to do is figure out how to begin to take action hours after an issue has emerged. Social Media issues are like wildfire. If you cannot contain or get on top of a story quickly, things will easily get out of control causing damage to your brand. 

3) Find out the facts and address the issue appropriately. If the story is true, let your consumers know that you researched the issue, took action, and the steps the company took to resolve the issue. Being transparent with your customer base helps to build a stronger brand image. If research is conducted and the story is false, addressing the issue lets your consumers know that they were heard and that their voice matters to your brand.

And one additional tip…

4) Stay engaged. It does not matter if the news reported about your company was real or fake; however, because there was an issue, your brand image could be bruised. After the issue has been resolved it is important to continue to engage with your audience and be transparent, continuing to strengthen the brand/consumer relationship.

Note: We reached out to Lowe’s for a comment and will update this post if a comment is received.

UPDATE: Lowe’s has responded with the following statement via Twitter: @melaniebullock We find this behavior to be deeply offensive. We are looking into this and are committed to taking swift & decisive action.

Thanks Lowe’s. We look forward to seeing how this will be resolved. 


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