6 Steps To Include In Your Social Media Crisis Management Plan

Posted on: 27 August 2015

Using social media to promote your business is practically a must nowadays, but the wrong word choice or hacking attempt can quickly leave you with a controversy or crisis on your hands. Taking advantage of the power of social media gives you a chance to address the situation instead of letting it escalate. Set up a crisis management plan now instead of waiting until there's already a problem.

Designate an Official Source

Start by picking one or two of your web presences, either a social media profile or your company's website, and designate it as the official source for information on the topic. This gives you control over what responses appear and limits the amount of work you need to do when spreading the message.

Setup Monitoring Services

Choose between hiring an in-house social media manager or contracting with an outside management service. Since many controversies start up on social media in the first place, you need someone keeping an eye on what's developing and preparing to respond during your entire business day, or around the clock if you can manage it. Monitoring services provide you with more reliable results since an entire crew of people can work on your various profiles.

Respond Publicly Within 24 Hours

Whether you're experiencing an offline crisis or a completely online blowout, there's a short window of time for getting the best results when responding. Aim to release some kind of official, well-written response within the first 24 hours. Some experts even say you should make your statement within an hour. If your business needs more time than that to talk with lawyers or public officials, explain what time frame the public can expect for your explanation.

When making the response, watch out for pitfalls like

  • Claiming your company knows more about the situation than you really do
  • Ignoring legitimate concerns and questions, unless you need to wait for a decision to answer honestly
  • Failing to offer any real help with a problem like a security breach
  • Pretending the crisis isn't happening, unless it's an insignificant problem like troll comments on your social media profiles.

Address Internal Concerns

If your company has a board of directors or stakeholders that are rightfully upset when a controversy occurs, set up a protocol for releasing a private statement to important groups. Use secure channels, like certified physical mail, to make sure only the right people read what information you release to shareholders and similar individuals. Share what you can with employees and other members of the business too so they're not left in the dark and motivated to start rumors.

Don't Get Personal

When customers or strangers on the Internet start posting insults or accusations about your business, it's easy to take the comments personally and react in an inappropriate way. This is why hiring a social media management company works better than trying to manage all your media campaigns yourself. Let a third party write a calm and collected response to even the most inflammatory attacks on your character so your brand always portrays the right image to the public.

Stop Planned Posts

Finally, hit the pause button on any queued auto-posts on your various social media profiles. Posting an overly enthusiastic quote about something that contrasts too starkly against a crisis leaves you looking less than concerned about your customers. Put a halt to any upcoming releases until you've handled the problem and the attention has died down again.

Working with a dedicated social media management company is the best way to catch a crisis as soon as it starts brewing. Don't let your brand's reputation sink because you took a long weekend and didn't notice what customers were saying online until you returned to work.