Just as in life, many things can go wrong with your business. With social media keeping us connected second to second, your response to a social media crisis can make or break how your followers perceive your brand. The negative effects of a social media blunder can be greatly reduced with swift action and a solid plan.
In this post I’ll review some basics on how to handle a business crisis on social media.
Is this really a “crisis” or just a problem?
Considering the severity of the problem is the first step in social media crisis management. If the problem is smaller like a minor customer complaint, you may not need to move the problem too far up the ladder. Now if the problem is a bigger issue (like a very offensive post) or caused by an element outside of social media (like a huge delay in shipments, a product recall or catastrophe) you will need to refer to your crisis plan.
Keep Cool & Have a Plan
The fastest way to handle a crisis is to have a plan in place already. Keep cool and asses the situation in full and wether you just have a small problem. The last thing you want is to bring attention to something that can be handled quietly. Gather all details from how many people are actually mentioning the issue, where the problem originated, where it was first talked about or posted, and if there is any immediate solution. Your plan should always include:
- Who gets informed about the crisis
- Who will be in charge of handling responses
- Internal communication plan
- What happens if there is a delay in spotting the issue or if decision makers are away?
- Content – how will your message be delivered?
- If possible pre-set messages for smaller issues and set “blueprint” for bigger issue responses.
Once the right people are informed and you’ve analyzed all angles of the situation you can formulate a well thought out response to disperse on your social media channels if needed. Remember that not all situations require public acknowledgement, but all situations will require the next point…
Respond to the issue as soon as possible. The faster you acknowledge the problem, take responsibility and apologize for any wrong doing – the better. You may need help with this but run searches for anyone mentioning your brand and try to respond to every concern individually if possible. Remember to respond to negative comments in a positive tone and show you care about what your customers are thinking or feeling. This will show your customers you care and reinforce brand loyalty.
Pause Scheduled Posts
Until things get figured out pause any planned outgoing messages from your brand or business. You don’t want to seem like you’re ignoring the problem and going about like nothing is happening. Once the situation has blown over or handled feel free to re-establish regular communications.
Take It Offline
While you’re responding to those who have contacted your business about the issue on social media try to get questions and conversations taken offline. This means giving a place to contact you besides your social networks. Provide an email address, phone number, or landing page where anyone with concerns can contact you along with your responses.
Keep Everyone Informed
Be sure to update the public on the situation. Keeping silent will only fuel the fire, and a simple message can go a long way. You can communicate in the form of social updates, a landing page dedicated to the situation etc.
And two things NOT to do:
- Do not delete/hide negative comments: This will only anger the commenter even more – and people can really fly off the handle, especially on the internet. You should also avoid blocking anyone unless they really become a nuisance.
- Don’t argue with people: Remember that this is your business, not your personal account. Avoid getting emotional and going back and forth with trolls.
Handling a crisis can be really overwhelming – but remember that how you respond and overcome the crisis is what matters. Use social media as a tool communicate and get some good out of a bad situation. Just like we run fire drills, run through a crisis drill – imagine yourself in the shoes of Blackberry when the Verge pointed out they tweeted from an iPhone, or when a hashtag campaign goes wrong (remember how the #MyNYPD campaign turned into a slew of photos of police brutality?). Now that you know basics you can create simple plans for different situations so you are always prepared to handle a business crisis on social media.
Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community