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Getting through a social media crisis

It can happen to all of us. Today, even the slightest issue can snowball and quickly spiral out of control. Sometimes, you notice it and can do something about it before it’s too late. All too often, you won’t notice until the moment’s passed – and has gathered enough pace to roll on its own. So, what do you do?

Don’t hit the panic button just yet.

There are a couple of ways of getting out of a social media pickle unscathed. And here’s the crucial point: be prepared. Have a plan in place. And stick to it. With a well-thought-out crisis communications strategy, you can manage your reputation and emerge unharmed.

In this post, we’ll help you with tips and advice on how to get through your social crisis!

First thing first, what’s a social media crisis?

It’s usually one of two things that causes a social media crisis. It could be an external factor that you can’t do much about, such as a natural disaster or something related to the industry you work in, that causes people to reach out to your social media accounts.

Most often it’s due to something you’ve done, like an insensitive tweet or post that was published by mistake.

If this gets picked up and gains traction, you’ll soon have a hot social potato on your hands. So how do you get out of it with your reputation intact when something like this happens? DiGiorno Pizza fails to read the fine print

Have a plan (and stick to it)

A crisis consumes both your time and your wallet. So you’d better be prepared when it comes your way.

Figure out what you need in order to respond ahead of time. This means that you should map out possible scenarios and actions for those scenarios, so you’ll be in control when the time comes.

Educate your staff who work with your social media channels.

Go through the scenarios and brainstorm possible actions – and empower your staff with guidelines on how to handle your social media channels, so they’ll know how to act, as well as how best to respond when required.

Monitor the crisis

To handle a crisis, you need to know what made it this way, how it has developed so far, and how it will grow. If the crisis has picked up speed, it can be hard to monitor everything as it might overwhelm you.

Use a social media monitoring tool (wow, we have one right here!), search relevant hashtags and keep tabs on your social media cases that are still in need of engagement.

Make sure to respond directly to customers. Everyone who posts something about you should receive a message from you. Post updates about the state of affairs on all your social channels.

It’s important that no one should be left in the dark!

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

If the crisis has been caused internally, take full responsibility of the issue even if you’re not personally the one to blame.

You can delete the tweet or post. But apologise when you’ve done it. Don’t sweep it under the rug and stay silent. That will most likely guarantee escalation.

Apologise and do it quickly!

Send out a well-conceived statement on the platform in which the crisis originated. Have a reputable source within your company to be a brand spokesperson. Show compassion and your full commitment to the issue. And assure customers that they’re your first priority.

A good example of this is Tesco’s apology for the horseburger crisis: Tesco attempts Operation Horseburger Apology

Another example is how DiGiornio Pizza handled the aftermath of their #WhyIStayed tweet above.

They quickly tweeted personal apologies to everyone that had been offended by their tweet. DiGiorno Pizza reins in their social media fiasco

So, what’s the conclusion?

In our digital climate, it’s never been this vital to monitor your social media presence, as things that might seem small can snowball and damage your company’s reputation within minutes.

Staying on top of news and social puts you in a better position for preventing mentions and posts from snowballing (or even turning in an avalanche). If it does happen, set up a strategy and be ready. Take matters into your own hands and own your mistakes. Assure your customers that the issue will be taken care of.

And most importantly, if it’s something that’s caused internally: apologise.

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