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Social media crisis management (part one)

Social media crisis management (part one)

Forget investigative journalism and media criticism. These days, it’s everyday people who have taken over with social media. This makes it important to nurture your brand and be prepared if things go south on Twitter or in the blogosphere.

In recent years, the power has shifted from professional media companies to members of the general public, who shape opinion online. Twitter is a channel which has seen a major impact. Though relatively small in comparison to Facebook, for example, Twitter demonstrates the heavy influence of microblogs.

The traditional media agenda is often inspired by Twitterstorms. By social media standards, Twitter is viewed to some extent as a more highbrow medium, used predominantly by professional commentators, journalists and politicians – this is one of the main reasons behind Twitter's significant influence. Another reason for Twitter becoming so big is that it is easy to follow people you do not know, unlike Facebook.

Here is some advice on how your company or organisation can manage a crisis in the context of social media:

1. Formulate a social media policy

2. Plan for social media

In order to protect their brands and business, companies and organisations increasingly utilise specially designed plans and strategies for handling social media. It is important to have a policy regarding this area, addressing how to act on events, as well as the responses of employees. This is a difficult distinction because one cannot make restrictions on freedom of expression. On the other hand, in today's transparent society, employees to some extent represent their company around the clock.

3. Monitor social media

4. Act quickly

Good media monitoring tools help you keep track of your company’s brand, day in, day out. As an Observify user, you will not miss one conversation online about your business. Blogs, web forums and social media are monitored 24/7 in over 190 countries and in more than 40 languages. Following the real-time flow of conversation about your brand is simple with Observify’s platform.

To counteract a negative spiral in social media, it is important to act quickly. Observify’s features ensure that you not only know what is said, but have direct access from the tool itself - and the ability to respond directly to posts from blogs and social media. Speedy actions are vital, otherwise you risk negative posts growing uncontrollably if left unchecked.

5. Set up a crisis team and go beyond normal operations

6. Practice

In case of an emergency, it is important to instigate a special crisis team and organisation. A common mistake made by many companies or organisations in the event of crisis is to underestimate it. They do not take it seriously enough, continuing instead to prioritise going about regular operations. Take the crisis seriously and use the crisis team or organisation immediately as a resource. If necessary, don’t hesitate to concentrate the bulk of the company on working to resolve the crisis. Project organisations such as these are common in media companies. At major news events, the entire editorial staff is involved in time-crucial assignments - this was clearly the case at newspapers Expressen and Aftonbladet when 9/11 played out, as well as during the Thailand tsunami disaster of 2004.

Make sure to put the crisis group into practice, as well as training other parts of your organisation. Work through scenario exercises and routines, and how you will communicate, for example. This only makes organisations far better prepared for the reality.

Read more in the upcoming Part 2 of crisis management in social media.

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