A Guide to Social Media Crisis Management

A Guide to Social Media Crisis Management
Does your company have a social media crisis plan in place? Do you know how to deal with negative media coverage?
In this article you'll learn how to find your footing amidst chaos and mitigate social media crisis.

How not to manage social media crisis

A huge PR disaster happened at the HMV earlier in 2013, namely a large number of workers were made redundant and they were outraged, of course. To take out their frustration and to tell the world what was going on, they accessed the HMV’s Twitter through their own accounts and made it clear what has happened. Even worse than letting such a thing happen, HMV decided then to just simply delete the tweets in the hopes that everything will blow over.

From this fiasco, two vital mistakes can be extracted: firstly, if you have set up a company social media then make sure that proper actions are taken when authority is in question. Designate who is responsible for handling social media and do not let everyone have free reign. Secondly, the company acted irresponsibly and failed to recognize what is viable for them to post on their social media channel.

Managing social media crisis

It is imperative that you have a good social media team, which can act responsibly and quickly if it is needed to avoid a crisis. Buffer, an online social media scheduling site handled their crisis well when they got hacked. They recognized the problem very quickly and acted fast to fix the issue.

First off, they informed their every client what has happened and what they can do in order to help out with the problem solving, and that they were working on fixing the problem. Thanks to their timely and appropriate actions, Buffer managed to minimize the crisis at hand, and to avert an even bigger catastrophe.

Crisis management before it happens

Your company should state clearly what the company policies are and what should be done in certain situations in order to avoid crisis. Each employee should understand what these policies are and what steps should be taken to minimize damage in case of a crisis, and they also need to know what consequences are if something serious does happen.

Social media crisis management steps

As soon as you realize something is not as it should be you will need to act, and you will need to act quickly. It is better for your customers to let them know what is happening before they learn the news by other means. Providing answers fast is a very important step towards handling social media crisis.

When you establish what the issue is and how you can solve, announce it, do not let people be in the dark. Take charge and manage the crisis, do not let it control the company. Moving and acting as fast as possible is essential. But more importantly, keep informing your customers that you are in charge and the issue will soon be fixed.

Do not manipulate the information you give to your customers, even if it is something embarrassing, you need to tell the truth. Your customers and the general public might be shaken by the facts, but in the long run they will appreciate honesty more. Come clean with real facts, otherwise the crisis might escalate to unimaginable proportions.

Not everyone will agree with your company’s statements, and you should not run from them, rather engage and use criticism to your own advantage. Once again, it is good to admit if something is problematic than denying it.

If a crisis does happen, you will need to inform everyone and fast, and on every social media channel possible. Do not rely only on one channel; use every possible means to distribute the information. Spare no means to spread the word.

During the crisis, try to leave an open space where your customers can engage in dialogue, try to answer any questions that may arise. Remember that by doing this, your loyal customers will come to defend your company and in the end positive reinforcement will outweigh negativity.

Follow up on your words

As a final step, to successfully avert a crisis, you will have to do what you stated you would. Take action and do exactly what you said you would. Make every possible move to respond to the crisis in a timely and appropriate fashion. Most importantly, remember to inform your customers what is going on, at all times. Let them know what the situation is, even if it is grim.

Because you have the final say, it is crucial to say it properly and in a form of a serious and truthful apology. Social media has a memory of its own, so you can choose to approach your most valued followers with a personal message or even take one step further and organize an event to honestly recover and promote your brand. Present the invites with a new image, gifts and donations, and watch as the positive influence echoes on social media overturning the bad history.

About author:
Leana Thorne is a devoted blogger and a regular contributor to several blogs. She enjoys sharing newly found information, and loves writing and is always happy to be of help - from search engine ranking to social media discovery.

Top photo credit: istockphoto.com
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