Crisis Management 101
The worst time to start planning for a crisis is when you’re face to face with one. We worked with a client in the past, a large multi-national corporation, that found themselves the target of racist allegations. Luckily, we caught this news ASAP on social media and were able to pivot our content plan and work directly with their communications and legal team to coordinate a response.
In this blog, we’ll offer some guidance on crisis management for social media, and better yet, outline the three easy steps for crisis mitigation so you can avoid a crisis in the first place. Before we dive into the logistics of crisis management, let’s discuss the three major steps for crisis mitigation.
1. Create a social media policy.
Whether you, an employee, or a third party is running your social media account, establish clear guidelines on what to post. This process decreases the risk of running into a self-inflicted social media crisis in the first place.
“With the world changing at a head-spinning pace, running social media without having an ear tuned to current events is a recipe for disaster.” - Ada Slivinski, JamPR Co
Stay ahead of the chatter and monitor the conversations around your brand by setting up keyword searches and Google Alerts. One of our clients, an e-commerce site, gets a ton of traction on social media. Most of this is positive, but when a customer has a bad experience, they drop it in a review or a direct message. Thankfully, we're monitoring this and responding to them quickly and in most cases, working directly with their customer service team, we can turn the situation around!
3. Determine what constitutes a crisis.
A social media crisis has the potential to impact the success of a company as a whole. Pay attention to scope and scale; for example, one person complaining about bad service at your restaurant isn’t a crisis. Consistent reports of food poisoning from your restaurant is.
Okay, so you’ve established your crisis mitigation guidelines, and now you’re staring into the face of the beast… What’s next?
1. Pause all outbound content immediately.
Pause all of your queued social media content and notify all social media managers to move to monitor-only mode. Avoid undiscussed and impulsive responses from your team before the company is ready to make a statement.
2. Take ownership and acknowledge the issue.
The worst thing you can do during a social media crisis? Nothing. Remember… acknowledge, don’t argue! Respond first where the crisis occurs - if it starts on Twitter, post your first response on Twitter. A response with “yes, we realize something has happened,” will slow the “Hey, did you know this happened!?” messages.
3. Create a Crisis FAQ page.
This is a game-changer! Create a landing page on your website and provide clear answers to potential questions that will arise. Once comments and questions start rolling in, you’ll have a solid resource with a clear company voice to direct people to. The Crisis FAQ should include:
Acknowledgment of the crisis
Details about the occurrence and how it was brought to your attention
Outline specific actions taken in response thus far, and intended actions moving forward
Real or potential effects on the company and its consumers - be honest here.
Steps taken to prevent future occurrence
Contact information for real people at the company
4. Start responding on social media.
You don't need to respond to individual comments unless absolutely necessary. Rather, share a blanket statement that sends the social community to the FAQ page. Should people have further concerns, they can connect directly via email or phone. Publish to all active social media accounts a post that identifies:
A summary of the situation
An immediate call to action
Link to FAQ hub for further updates
Relevant hashtags to help disseminate info
Safety tips or checklists, if applicable
Estimated time of interruption or event
5. Learn your lessons.
Deconstruct the crisis and determine how it happened in the first place. Adjust your Crisis mitigation process accordingly.
There it is! The social media crisis management guidelines we hope you’ll never have to use. Yes, we know, this sounds like A LOT. Another point to why you should hire an agency, when it's “all hands on deck,” we have you covered.
Need to have a conversation about crisis management? Let's chat!