Social media provides a two-way communication channel between a business and the rest of the world which is part of what makes it so valuable. Being able to communicate with your customers and get their feedback helps you be more informed as a business. But what if something goes wrong… terribly wrong? Then you better be ready to do some quick damage control!
Preparing for a social media crisis is something every business with an online presence should do. It doesn’t take much to develop a simple strategy to have at the ready should things hit the fan – and its value is priceless if the time ever comes to use it. Think of it like an emergency preparedness kit for an earthquake. The big one might never come, but if it does you want to be prepared.
How you handle a crisis is an important reflection of you as a business. With the spotlight on you, this is an opportunity to show the world what you’ve got and show that you really care.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a social media crisis:
First of all, make sure you are listening to what’s going on in all of your social media channels. This is something you should already be doing. Along with being proactive and responding to comments and feedback on a regular basis, you should be keeping your eye out for any negative trends. Either have someone directly responsible for overseeing and responding to social media mentions or implement a social media listening software. Make sure there’s a protocol in place for how often social media is checked or who receives the alerts – it might even be around the clock if you’re a business with a large social media following.
Here are some great tools:
The second people start posting negative comments you’ll be able to respond and diffuse the situation. If the situation starts to escalate into a crisis, you’ll be right there with a plan and ready to take action. Which leads to the second tip…
Put together some guidelines that will help you in the event of an emergency. Talk through different scenarios that might arise and how to deal with them. There may be different levels of conflict to deal with and each should have an appropriate solution. Write out sample responses to potential negative posts on all of your social media outlets. Outline who will take a leadership role as well as handle monitoring and responding to posts on different social media channels.
Create a strategy for when and how to take the conflict offline. How can people get directly in touch with you and who will be the main point of contact?
Anyone that has access to post to social media on behalf of your business should be trained on proper protocol. The business account should be used only with the good of the business in mind; it should not be used to express personal or controversial opinions. Training your employees on this will help to avoid any flair ups in the first place.
If a crisis does arise, make sure all employees are aware of what is going on and how to appropriately respond if contacted. Educate them on the steps you are taking to improve the situation and provide them with resources they can direct people to.
Be ready to implement your social media crisis plan at a moment’s notice. The best way to deal with a social media crisis is to face it head on in a polite, calm, professional, and caring manner. Don’t try to breeze by as if nothing happened. Let the public know that you are aware of the issue, that you care, and what steps you are taking to help. Don’t add fuel to the fire by being argumentative or aggressive.
Start your response at the epicenter where the crisis originated (if it started on Twitter, focus there first). Then move out to other social media outlets that may have picked this up. Be quick to respond before the situation escalates and things get taken out of proportion.
Linda Halabi is a writer and photographer who writes creative content on behalf of the digital marketing gurus at Marketing Zen. An avid traveler and culture enthusiast, she loves to fit in adventures whenever possible. When not working, you can find her exploring the outdoors, doing yoga, and cooking healthy vegetarian food. You can connect with Linda on LinkedIn.
A crisis is bound to happen someday and comes in different forms we don’t expect. You should be ready for anything and plan in advance how to deal with a crisis. Have a special crisis management team that will guide the company on ways to handle it without causing much tension. Here are some of the ways to deal with social media crisis.
Admitting that a crisis in your company is the big and successful first step you have made. By acknowledging you would have made the public aware that you know what you are doing and that you are aware. The public is always curious and will stick to your neck asking questions you never expected. Even if you are out of the office and have not been updated on what is happening admit blindly that there is a crisis. They would not waste their time asking you about it if they have no news.
When a crisis has occurred on Facebook, immediately respond through the same social network. Responding in other venues will not create any impact and the public might see that you are trying to avoid what is already gone wrong. Replying back via the first venue will help you deal with other reports that you get when the crisis has spread. Try as much to keep updated via email and other social media networks because you never know where it will break out from.
You are in the middle of a crisis and still insist on denying it. It is public and everyone is aware denial will only bring much problems and cause propaganda that you will not be able to come out of. Admit there has been a crisis and apologize to calm things down.
A crisis may happen anytime and creating something to back you up might be very important. It’s the time you will meet the real personalities in public, you are to be confident and pretend you are in a position to handle the crisis. Create a list of FAQs to help you answer questions directed to you. Your crisis management team should come up with good questions that are bound to be asked. You can easily confirm your answers and respond faster. Some of the questions you need to include in the list include
Have one venue where you can communicate the crisis resolving process with the interested parties. A venue that has gained a lot of users and may be a source of news to the public.fro instance social media such as twitter, Facebook has gained much popularity. It could be a venue where you can answer questions, explain how you are dealing with the crisis and also see the comments of how the users are taking the crisis and talking about your company.
Everyone is watching every step you take and how you intend to deal with the crisis. As much as you receive criticizing comments don’t throw back words and involve yourself in an online fight. Some of the ways you could use to get yourself out is by offering other means of contact give your number and your email. If asked a question just answer with discrete avoid third replies or making conversations.
Let everyone in your company be aware that a crisis has happened. Save them the embarrassments when asked questions without their knowledge. Keep them aware through their mails, phones and their social media profiles. They will know how to deal with the crisis questions coming from other venues.
From the first crisis you should be able to analyze how to handle another one just in case it comes. Call for a company meeting and discuss new ways to improve crisis management techniques. Use the feedback from the public to help you have new ideas. Lastly appreciate your team for solving the previous crisis.