Social media is not always a positive force. For many people and organizations, it’s a nightmare that turns a bad situation worse. Personalities have been harassed at work or in the public after being maliciously misquoted online. Filipino restaurants suddenly see Facebook and Twitter mentions of their meals allegedly contaminated by vermin. Social networks boost stories – both good and bad.
When it’s bad, your brand can quickly find its name dragged in the mud. A wrong response will only dig you deeper into trouble, and social media has made it very easy to fall into that mistake during the heat of the moment. Good crisis management, however, isn’t passive. Here are some things you can do:
Include Social During Planning
On Facebook alone, an average of 31.25 million messages are sent each minute. With this much information and activity happening on the digital social sphere, social media should come into the equation when identifying risky trends and planning your responses for issues management. An internal alert and response flowchart is recommended to arm your community managers with a guide on how to respond, when to escalate, and who to call in case of emergencies. A handy social media playbook also equips your community managers with the correct response for different situations.
Recognize the Crisis
Being a collaborative medium, social media does not tolerate silence very well. Immediate answers are a must whenever a crisis situation develops. So if social media users don’t get any response from a brand for a complaint or concern they have, they will assume that their issues are being dismissed as unimportant. The situation—and the brand’s reputation—could worsen as a result. To keep your followers trust and maintain your online rep, be sure to acknowledge that something is happening even if you don’t fully understand what’s going on.
Be on Top of the Situation
Don’t let social media dictate the narrative of the crisis. Always take charge. Provide answers—even if all you can say is, “We are still investigating the situation and we’ll update you once we have the facts.” Take the initiative to publish your side of the story and action points. Remember that social media isn’t just composed of mere consumers; journalists make up 25 percent of Twitter’s verified users. How you respond to the crisis could attract media attention and put you in either a good or bad light.
Publish a Crisis Microsite
Social media tends to repeat itself. From the first person to hear the crisis to the very last, you can expect to hear pretty much the same question over and over again. Additionally, rumors can easily spin your statements to your disadvantage on social media. To help you prevent repetitions and counter allegations, you can set up a website that answers people’s questions and communicates your position and action points. Small, self-contained, and easy to build, microsites are perfect for this purpose.
Let People Vent
Whenever there’s discontent, people often can’t help but vent online. But rather than preventing them from doing so, just let them be. Strong emotions need an outlet so they don’t explode and cause havoc, which is why disgruntled customers should be given a place to grumble. However, be sure that the venue can be controlled by your brand. Your own page or a microsite would be ideal as either option lets you track conversations and answer complaints from dissatisfied customers. Otherwise, they could vent out their frustrations and talk badly about your brand in a forum controlled by your competitors.
A single crisis situation is one too many. Brands must always stay prepared to manage any possible emergency to keep customers happy and the business intact. Wondering how you can keep your brand ready for a crisis? Contact our team so we can collaborate with you and help you plan for different PR situations.