How to Handle a Social Media Crisis

Matlock-Advertising-Public-Relations-Crisis In the wake of these tragic circumstances that have swept the nation, a lot of real-time media coverage and conversations occur on social media. It is during times like these, that all businesses and agencies need a social media crisis plan—normally created by an organization’s crisis communications team. The crisis communications team serves as the organizations first response during an incidence.

From a communications perspective, a crisis can be a business or organizational problem that is brought to the public’s attention. This may threaten the company or organization’s reputation and ability to conduct business and tarnish the public’s faith.

A crisis can take on many forms, including: natural, environmental, recalls, criminal acts and more – to name a few. What makes them a crisis is that they are heavily focused on media and social media scrutiny.

Although some circumstances are well beyond a company’s control, others can be avoided. The best resolutions occurs when companies take accountability for their actions and manage the issue before it snowballs out of control.

A strategic approach to issues management can help an organization effectively identify and anticipate potential issues, prevent crises from developing, and influence their evolution and outcome. Here are some social media tips that can help your business overcome a social media crisis:

Listen and Be Present

  • Organizations must have a listening protocol and tools to monitor social conversations. When are people posting? What are they posting about? Why are they posting?
  • Who will be monitoring these conversations and will they be covering nights and weekends?
  • Identify what is and what is not a crisis.

Own Your Mistakes

  • Be apologetic. In the event of a crisis, an organization should apologize and mean it, all can be forgiven.
  • When social media crisis is caused internally, take full responsibility for the issue, even if the organization is not the one to blame.
  • A spokesperson should be ready to make thought-out public statements and share it on the platform where the original problem started.

Have a Crisis Management Team in Place

  • Consider forming a team of community leaders, PR, activists, legal allies and marketing professionals than can come together quickly to draft a response to shut down any negative talk about your organization.
  • Make sure all spokespersons and appropriate executives are ready to speak at any given time.
  • Manage accesses to all social media pages carefully.
  • Keep all constituents informed about the crisis through internal communications to remain as knowledgeable as the public.

Create Diaries for Internal Records

  • Make copies of all negative tweets, status updates, statements and blog comments
  • Make copies of emails
  • Monitor/analyze website traffic patterns
  • Identify where the crisis break, and when? Where did it spread, and how?
  • How your organization was initially informed?
  • How effective was the response protocol?
  • Did specific individuals or 3rd party allies rise to the organization’s defense? Did the organization thank them?

Create a Crisis FAQ

  • Create a dark page or microsite and put all the information pertaining to the crisis in one place. This will save time and respond to people with a link and not an answer.
  • Crisis FAQ should Include:
  1. Acknowledgement of the crisis
  2. Details about the occurrence
  3. Photos and videos from spokespersons, if available
  4. How the company found out
  5. How the organization was alerted, when they were alerted and by who
  6. Specific actions that were or will be taken
  7. Real or potential effects
  8. Steps to prevent the same crisis from occurring
  9. The best point of contact for any media inquiries