Social Media Crisis
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How to Manage a Social Media Crisis

The worst time to start managing a social media crisis is when you are in the middle of one. Needless to say, effective crisis management starts long before any issue arises.

As such, it is also important to prepare for unforeseen circumstances. In this social media era, you can never get too comfortable.

By mitigating risk, you will know what to do and when to react, especially because things can move blazingly fast online.

Your best chance to make it through is to have a clear plan of action and a reliable chain of command.

So, where do you start? We put together a checklist of items to help you implement the best ways to manage a social media crisis.

Understand what qualifies as a social media crisis

A negative Facebook post or two about the products and services that you offer does not necessarily qualify as a social media crisis.

However, when too many complaints start rolling in before you even have the chance to defend yourself then you are in crisis mode. As with all things social, if the issue is big enough, don’t underestimate the chances of the issue spreading like wildfire.

Here are two things that will help you identify a social media crisis:

Potential negative impact on the company as a whole

If a single person is tweeting that they did not particularly enjoy their burger then that is their personal opinion that may be easy to handle and in the best-case scenario, is up for amendment.

On the other hand, if all of your customers are tweeting about sub-par burgers while others are complaining about food poisoning, then there is cause for alarm.

Another common example for online businesses would be service outages. In a world powered by the cloud, service outages are more common than you think and it happens to businesses of all shapes and sizes.

May directly impact more than a single company

When a social media crisis occurs, several companies that are in the same line of business are equally liable.

For instance, if there is a constant outcry on the delivery of raw chicken, other companies that deal in delivery will need to come out and explain their point of view.

This is particularly why most companies have a social media management plan in place as it comes in handy when a crisis occurs.

Pause any outbound messages

This may sound like an obvious step but in the heat of the moment, it could be the last thing you’re team is thinking about. Obviously, it is only wise to pause any scheduled social media contact amidst a crisis. This will give you time to regroup and re-evaluate the situation.

It will also prevent any attempts to offer early responses before the company as a whole offers a statement.

If you forget this simple step, future messages could come across like the company doesn’t care about the current crisis. Obviously, this could be put a pretty bad taste in the mouth of your growing social media following.

Acknowledge the issue

The first step to fixing anything is to acknowledge that there is an issue. A social media crisis is no exception. In other words, get ahead of the problem.

Your first response should be that you realize what happened and offer an apology, along with frequent updates. This will stop the stream of incoming “did you know?” messages and offer your team the opportunity to come up with a solution.

Continue with frequent updates until the crisis has come to a resolution.

Have a social media crisis FAQ page

The last thing you want is to communicate about a crisis at random. If anything, it is important to look like you are taking the issue seriously and are ready to handle it in every possible way.

A crisis FAQ page will hello you come off as professional as possible.

It will not only allow you to keep communication at a single point but also enable you to respond to urgent questions with a single link. It will save time and keep misinterpretations at bay.

Your crisis FAQ page should come with the following key elements:

  • An acknowledgment of the crisis
  • Details about its occurrence
  • Specific actions taken in response to the crisis
  • Hashtags that will help in the dissemination of the information
  • An estimated period of interruption

Cover all your bases

It is important to keep tabs on your employees as you handle your social media crisis.

While you cannot do everything by yourself, enlist help by having your team look at all social channels. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, they will ensure that you cover all your bases.

The Bottom Line

There you have it! Important social media crisis tips that will help your company weather the storm if the inevitable happens!

While following all the aforementioned steps to the latter is important, it is even more significant to learn your lesson.

Learn how to construct and deconstruct a social media crisis so that you prepare for when it occurs. You never know, right? You do not want to jeopardize your entire business because of a social media crisis

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Written by Branko

Branko is the Co-Founder of Social Snap and HB-Themes. He focuses on pixel perfect design and frontend development.

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