In the age of social media, nothing is kept quiet for long. On average news breaks on Twitter 5 minutes faster than on a more traditional news platform and can be shared worldwide within a few seconds.
879 million complaints about businesses were shared on social media in the last year and even the smallest predicament can quickly gain momentum and spiral out of control.
The key to preparing for every eventuality is to create a Social Media Crisis Management Strategy to put yourself in the best possible situation to manage your reputation when a crisis does hit.
What is a Social Media Crisis?
There are two main areas that can cause a social media crisis. The first of which are external factors – company news, tragedy, disasters related to your industry, or events that could cause concern for your customers.
Then there are the kind of crises that can often be avoided. Offensive or insensitive tweets sent from your business account or complaints and bad reviews from unhappy customers. In either case, the negative impact on your brand can be lasting.
Waiting for a social media crisis to blow over is NEVER an option. If you ignore it, it will likely get worse. When used correctly, social media can be a huge asset to your company in a crisis.
Here’s how to handle a social media crisis and ensure you come out the other side with your company’s reputation still firmly intact.
Own Up To Your Mistakes
Directly your fault or not, you need to take full responsibility for the issue.
Whether it is a companywide issue or a disgruntled Facebook user, put together a well thought-out public statement, apologising, addressing what has happened and reassuring followers on how the issue will be resolved.
Wherever possible address the issue publicly and then redirect out of the public eye, whether that means via email, phone or even direct message. If the issue is external, be sure to address it across every channel.
Make sure you send out your statement/apology as quickly as possible (ideally within minutes of the crisis happening). If the crisis is an external issue have a reputable source within your company, such as your brand manager or director speak on behalf of the company.
When responding to someone or issuing a statement always show compassion and your full commitment to the crisis.
Assure your customers that the issue is being resolved and that they are your first and main priority. Don’t be defensive, don’t try and justify the actions, but most importantly don’t just ignore, void, or delete the comments.
Monitor the Situation
Regardless of what caused the crisis, you need to ensure its development is monitored. Just because you think you’ve rectified the situation doesn’t mean it will instantly blow over, and be sure you don’t miss any important posts or comments.
By using social media listening tools like Pulsar, Agorapulse or Hootsuite you can keep an eye (or ear) on what is being said about your brand and the crisis, regardless of whether you are tagged in it or not.
Setting up searches using keywords will help make managing the crisis easier as all posts that need to be engaged with can be found in one place. You can see the conversations appear in real-time and keep a track of which comments and messages still need a reply.
Post relevant updates via your social channels as and when the crisis is happening, and be honest and open with your customers. You don’t want anyone to be feeling left in the dark.
Manage Your Community
There are still some companies who treat social media management as an afterthought.
In reality, your social media channels are a huge part of your brand image and reputation and are quite often the first thing port of call for communicating with you.
Consider a community manager who will manage the upkeep of your social channels on a daily basis, responding to comments both positive and negative, they are your direct line to current and potential customers.
Your community manager will know your online audience better than anyone else. The right one will have perfected your brand’s tone of voice and should know exactly how to handle any disgruntled customers when a crisis does happen.
Don’t leave your brands reputation to fate. Allow Zeal’s Community Management team to take control of your social media channels and ensure you’re never left unprepared if a social media crisis does hit.
Get in touch today to find out more!