Efficient Ways to Respond to a Social Media Crisis


The rise of online media has seen an increase of easily available information. This has prompted a rise in the channels available for correspondence between the brand and the customer,  which means brands should participate in social media management.


While the advancement of social media has profoundly affected the communication of brands, the speed of communication has increased and moved to public domains. This prompts brands to have a social media crisis management plan in place to prevent any form of reputational damage.


It is important to get reputation management right before a crisis occurs which costs relatively less than getting it wrong and making an expensive mistake. Online reputation management should increase brand awareness, drive customer engagement, assist product development, and eventually drive sales.


However, regardless of well-laid plans, social media can go into a rage at any given time and it is at times like these you will need a social media management strategy before things get out of control and cause permanent damage. 


Identifying a Social Media Crisis

The first part of the plan is identification. Most consumer-facing brands find out about a crisis through social media before they know about it from internal sources. The occuring issue will be talked about on social media before it is broadcasted by the mainstream media. This highlights the importance of social media listening which provides an opportunity to buy vital time. You can establish keywords to monitor by using a tool such as Brandwatch to employ an automatic analysis system. This tool will signal alerts in any conversation to notify you of any crisis or when influential individual posts negative comments about your brand.


There are different types of crises. Some of these issues can be prepared for and others come out of the blue without warning.


  • Issues that can be prepared for. Product issues that lead to remembering services reduction by virtue of bad weather data leaks, these are generally issues that can be avoided.
  • Smouldering issues. These are ongoing low key issues that have the potential to escalate should they be given oxygen in some way. These issues could include political activism or an area of technical weakness.
  • The bolt of the blue. This could be a product or campaign that doesn’t get to the customer in a manner the brand had expected.



Escalating a Social Media Crisis

Once a crisis is identified, the first step is establishing the magnitude of the problem and that should include asking relevant questions such as:


What is being said? – The Seriousness of the Issue

The seriousness of the issue will determine the response from the customer service team right to the C-Suite.


Who is saying it? – The Influence of the Person Posting

While some posts have the potential to escalate no matter who posts about them, others only pick up steam when an influencer shares or comments on the posts. Having an influencer share or talk about the problem can lead to a crisis due to their big following.


How often is it being said? – The Visibility of the Issue

The relevance of a crisis depends on the magnitude of the brand and the number of mentions it gets each day. Tracking the change in volume of tweets and the velocity of that change is what makes the size of the crisis easy to identify and track.


How to Deal with a Social Media Crisis

There are two pivotal ways of dealing with a crisis. One is to not respond at all and the other is looking out for the changes that need to be made as a result of the crisis. In some cases, the best response is no response, because making a comment may escalate the problem.


Crises that involve serious incidents such as injuries or demise make the brand bound to respond. The brand will need to explain why the incident happened, apologise for it, state possible measures to be taken in the future to ensure that the same incident doesn’t happen again.


To read the full article on how to manage a social media crisis, click here.

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