Social Media is a fantastic tool for building brand loyalty, awareness and of course engaging with customers. But social media can also be an extremely useful tool for handling all sorts of crisis. Here are my top ten tips for handling a crisis via social media.
1-Have a Plan in Place:
The reality is you can never have a perfect plan in place for a crisis. While it’s impossible to think up every scenario you can have a general plan in place that includes important points like; what is the appropriate chain of command, who is responsible for what during a, how quickly responses should be given and different plans of action for crisis that hit on a given platform. There should be a simple road map to help guide your team when a crisis hits.
2- Be on the Lookout:
A crisis can start anywhere including on social media platforms. This means your team must have a plan in place to monitor the internet for possible crisis. If catch an issue after it’s grown into a full blown crisis your job will be that much more difficult. Set up alerts, monitor major sites and be aware of the chatter surrounding our brand. Consider using a software tool like UberVU to help monitor for possible crisis.
3- When a Crisis Hits DO SOMETHING:
Doing nothing is NOT an option no matter what your legal team says. In fact, doing nothing can lead to another social media crisis. This is why having a plan or strategy in place is essential. When you are prepared doing nothing will never be an option. Silence during a social media crisis is more harmful than giving the wrong response. Remember all eyes are on you and they are waiting to see what your response is. Silence can indicate your brand doesn’t care, isn’t aware of what’s going on or is too afraid to take action. Don’t make the mistake of retreating as it will simply create another crisis, one you will most definitely not be able to ignore.
4- Act Immediately:
Now you know you must do something, but what? I would suggest the first step you take is to acknowledge the crisis quickly. Your first response does not have to be the solution or a full scale apology but there must be some type of acknowledgement. This shows you’re listen, care and are working towards a resolution. Your plan should include types of messages that can be put out on social platforms immediately after a crisis hits. These can be approved by legal and ready to be tweeted, posted and blogged.
5- Have a Flexible Editorial Calendar:
Some of the most damaging and high profile social crisis, consider Entenmann’s #NOTGUILTY debacle, come from organizations who build a great editorial calendar and then schedule all their social communications in advance. While this is necessary at times you must constantly be on the lookout for trending topics, news stories and your community chatter to be sure your editorial calendar is in sync. If you can completely avoid a social media crisis that’s always the best route to take.
6- Respond on ALL Social Platforms:
Going viral is usually something all brands strive for. However, when it comes to a social crisis the last words you want to hear are “It went viral” But this is a very real possibility. Because a crisis can easily jump from Twitter to Facebook etc… you must respond on all your social platforms. Not everyone is on Twitter and even those who are won’t necessarily see your tweet. Be sure your response(s) are easily found by all your social communities. Posting shorter responses with links to longer answers on your blog or website is also a great way to make sure your message is received loud and clear.
7- Be Sincere and Take Responsibility:
No one wants to hear excuses or be lied to. Being sincere and taking responsibility will always yield the best results. Mistakes happen and everyone has made a poor choice but all can be forgiven. Those who are dishonest, defensive and insincere will not come out of a social media crisis well. Part of your crisis plan should include a clear statement that whatever the crisis your brand must always be sincere and accept responsibility when necessary.
8- If Necessary Apologize to People Individually:
Social media platforms provide an excellent way to make statements to a very large number of people quickly. However, when your organization has wrong an individual or even a group of individuals posting a broad apology on a social platform will not be enough. In these times you must communicate individually with those you have wronged. Whether it’s a phone call, email or social communication you still must reach out individually.
9- Learn from Others
At least one of your team members should be watching and learning from other social media crisis. This person can learn from other brand’s responses/lack of responses. They can see how communities react to different responses and get a better understanding of how to handle a variety of social crisis. Social crisis happen almost daily and there is much to be learned. Dedicating one team member to monitoring social crisis will prepare you for when your crisis hits.
10- Document & Learn:
Document every crisis and what steps you took so the next time you can have an even faster and complete response to a crisis. Take your crisis as a learning opportunity. What worked, what didn’t and what would you do differently the next time. These are simple questions that, if answered, can improve your brands response if this should happen again.
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