Crisis is inevitable in life and business. A social media crisis is an occurrence that can have a damaging effect on a brand or individual’s reputation. It could be anything that occurs offline and is then brought to social media channels, or it can begin on social media channels, and then spread everywhere. Examples of social media crises range from embarrassing images or videos, inappropriate postings by staff or brand ambassadors, or voiced opinions that can reflect negatively on a company. A crisis could be imminent, emerging, sudden or natural.
If crisis management is handled wrongly, long-term damage can be done to a brand’s reputation. It may trickle down to a brand’s relationship with its external stakeholders and the general public. If handled right, a crisis can actually be an opportunity to improve a brand’s reputation and fortune both online and offline.
Timely and speedy response are an essential element in social media management, so having a social media plan to address crisis situation is not just a need but a necessity.
The worst time to start planning for a crisis is when you’re in the middle of one. Pre-crisis planning is key to successful social media crisis mitigation. This means getting all your digital binoculars out for your brand.
Here are 3 ways to manage a social media crisis:
- Set up an active social media listening and monitoring system.
It is not possible to deal with a social media crisis you cannot find. You can most effectively monitor conversations and stay aware of crises with a social media listening tool. You need to set up active listening tools on your brand online. These tools also help you manage your reputation online as well.
The following tools are useful for social media listening:
- Google Alerts – google.com/alerts
- Social Mention – www.socialmention.com
- Talk Walker – www.talkwalker.com/alerts
- Social Bakers – www.socialbakers.com/feature/social-media-listening
Setting up an active social media listening also involves making other colleagues engaged in the social listening process. Ensure listening is effective both day and night, both holidays and weekends and all year round.
- Get a complete response plan
Crisis usually occur unexpectedly and takes everyone off guard. You need to set up an internal flow chart response team to handle communications in the event of a crisis. This flowchart specifies who should communicate, respond or act in crisis situations. Top issues may require a senior official to respond.
You cannot go wrong by practicing a mock drill and role play to make sure your team is fully on board. A complete plan helps you to mitigate the effect of a crisis.
- Remember the response rule of two
Always remember that social media crisis management is not all about winning, its rather about damage control. People will have their own formed opinion and your communication may not even help at all.
The Hug your haters response rule of two is to respond only twice, publicly. Give the agitator two responses, nothing more or less. This shows anyone watching that you attempted to engage in a productive, constructive way, but also knew when to walk away. Move conversations that are likely to be resolved to an offline channel (direct message, email, phone) after the second response.
Cherubim Mawuli AmenyedorAccount Manager, Digital Innovations
Global Media Alliance
LinkedIn: Cherubim Mawuli Amenyedor