Handling a Social Media Crisis–Does Your Business Have an Action Plan?

Social media plays a critical role in the way that companies brand themselves today. However, despite your best efforts to put forth a thorough social media strategy that represents your brand well, a small oversight can quickly send you spiraling into a social media crisis.
Think about some of the embarrassing social media blunders that some of the biggest brands recently found themselves in, such as the KitchenAid employee that made an inappropriate tweet on the brand’s Twitter account thinking it was her personal account or the defensive Facebook post that Applebees made that inspired thousands of negative comments.

A scary reality is that a social media debacle is likely something that every brand will experience at one point or another. Is your company prepared to deal with this unpleasant scenario when it comes your way?

To keep your branding intact, you can’t afford to wait around for a social media crisis to blow over. Make a point to ingrain the following 4 practices into your branding strategy to help you to quickly recover from a social media crisis while also preserving your reputation:

1. Have a plan in place.
Anyone and everyone within your organization that is involved with your brand’s social media marketing strategy should be made aware that a plan is in place for dealing with a potential social media crisis so the fire can be put out immediately before it grows to become a serious problem. Your team should take the time to anticipate possible situations and develop a game plan to address each of those scenarios promptly. This social media committee should meet regularly (weekly, monthly, or however often you deem fit) to assess how these potential nightmare social media scenarios should be resolved.

2. Create a dedicated crisis center for handling such situations.
Learning from mainstream brands that have successfully resolved a social media situation before it unraveled into full-on crisis mode, it’s a best practice to use one source to communicate with customers and stakeholders. You can do this by creating a dedicated online crisis center to help get the situation under control. For a brewing crisis that could affect a large portion of your customers, you could create a stand-alone website that addresses the situation at hand and how and where your customers can get help.

3. Use social media monitoring tools to help stay ahead of a crisis.
It’s absolutely critical that you monitor brand-related social media conversations to make yourself aware of any discontent or a possible crisis in the making. If a situation does unravel, you will still want to continue to monitor it via social media to see how it develops and if your efforts to resolve the situation are working.

4. Own up to your mistakes.
We’re all human–mistakes are bound to happen. What often separates the development of a full-on crisis from a simple negative social media comment, however, is how your brand takes responsibility. If you made a mistake, you need to own up to it or you will lose credibility and the trust of your audience. Create a well thought-out public statement that addresses the problem at hand and share it on the social media platform where the issue originated.

As you know, a social media crisis can spread like wildfire, damaging your brand’s hard earned reputation within minutes or seconds. However, if you follow these 4 guidelines, you should feel good knowing that you have a solid plan of action in place for when a social media crisis comes your way.

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