Social Media Manager Laura Hall shares her top tips for managing a crisis using social media

A social media crisis is like a wildfire. It can’t be unlit, but it can be contained. However, one can also fan the flames and cause more damage. No business is immune from crisis and having the right controls in place will ensure that if disaster does strike, its effects can be managed on your terms to the best possible result. Here are Bravr’s top tips for managing a crisis via social media.

 

1. Monitor, monitor, monitor

I know what you’re thinking: “we monitor our brand online” – but are you really aware of what is being said about you 24/7? Is someone tasked with listening on evenings and weekends? Do you have tools in place that will alert the right people to mentions of your brand? Do you have protocols in place for establishing when a negative comment warrants a response, or determining if you are on the verge of a crisis? If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, then it is worth revaluating your social media monitoring processes. The saying “being forewarned is forearmed” is especially true of social media. The sooner you become aware of the crisis, the sooner you can implement your crisis control processes – which brings us to tip number 2…

There is no such thing as responding too quickly

A lot can happen in a Twitter minute. While it can take time for a company to be in a position to issue a formal response, the longer it takes, the greater the negative sentiment to combat. Lengthy response times also make it harder to gain control of the conversation. For this reason it is vital it is that you have some immediate messaging prepared that will allow you to at least acknowledge that there is an issue.

Anticipate the types of crises that might occur and devising response strategies appropriate to various crisis scenarios. This will provide you with the necessary framework to craft a response as quickly as possible.

2. Be authentic

When you have been bombarded with 500 negative messages, it can be tempting to send 500 identical pre-approved responses back. A lack of personalisation when a person has made the effort to reach out to your business can cause further anger. It can seem like you don’t care about the situation at hand, or are failing to engage with what people have to say.

You should ensure you have a range of responses at your disposal that reflect the types of questions people may ask. However, these should just be the basis on which your social media team form responses. Ultimately it is important to have a reliable social media team who understand the tone of your brand and will be able to respond to comments appropriately.

3. Facilitate discussion

You can’t stop a social media crisis by deleting comments or pretending it’s not happening. You can, however, ensure you have a stake in what is being said and some modicum of control.

Provide an opportunity for people to vent their frustration either via your website or your social media presence. It’s disconcerting to see negative comments covering your Facebook page, but if they aren’t saying it to you, they will certainly be saying it about you. Facilitating comments will allow you to oversee the debate, show you are engaging with the negative feedback and even change opinion.

4. Know when to shut up

Some fires need putting out and some fires need to burn out. Questions from your customers can’t be ignored, but entering into long debates with angry people can fan the flames of a social media crisis.

Working out the difference between the people who are just venting and the people that demand answers is often a judgement call. Respond to all initial questions and comments but do not get drawn into long conversations in trying to justify your brand’s position. Be simple, be direct and be concise.

5. Train, involve and inform your team

An overwhelming number of organizations still don’t have a company-wide social media policy. Even those that do often lack a sufficient provision for crisis management.

If the public or the press approach your team via social networks, they need to know how to respond. This also means keeping employees informed. They should not be hearing about the crisis through someone asking them a question on social media. Adopt an internal communications strategy that will allow you to keep your team informed and aware of your crisis protocols.

6. Report and analyse

It’s tempting to go back to business as usual, but crisis reporting will help you tighten your processes and could even improve your overall social media strategy.

Analyse all the comments that were made about the crisis and examine them against time, demographics, channels used and sentiment. Did one type of response from you generate a more positive outcome? Did any of your messages specifically attract negativity? What was your average response time? Did the crisis affect traffic to your website and did you cater to people effectively when they visited you?

You should also analyse your internal processes; was everyone informed and how quickly? Were there any internal barriers to handling the crisis that need to be dealt with?

While no one can predict when a crisis will occur, you can prepare for it. Successful social media crisis management will not only mitigate a disaster, but has the potential to turn a crisis into a triumph for your brand. If you need social media crisis management advice, Bravr can help. From crisis planning, to ongoing social media advice, our team can help you feel more confident in your social media communications. Get in touch if your organization could benefit.