social crisis management

What to do in a social media crisis?

While crisis situations are often sudden and seem uncontrollable, proper preparation can go a long way to minimising the impact and helping your brand survive with dignity.

What is a social media crisis?

  1. External factors such as a natural disaster, human tragedy or something relevant to your industry can cause people to turn to their social media accounts. You need to ensure you are considerate about your messaging if an external crisis occurs.
  2. A social media crisis can start on the channel itself due to an insensitive comment or inappropriate picture, or an offline event that can trigger comments about your brand or business online.

 

What can you prepare in advance?

Have a Crisis and escalation procedure plan written

A typical crisis plan could include the following areas:  

  1. Discover – How and who will the crisis be identified?
  2. Evaluation – Internal investigation, draft responses, the scale of crisis determined, the initial volume of mentions / views.
  3. Respond – Approach and draft response agreed.
  4. Monitor – All channels covered, team briefed.
  5. Report – Volumes, reputation damage, brand sentiment evaluation and key learnings.

Draft 5-10 scenarios and pre-approved responses

It’s a good idea to create example scenarios based on the perceived crisis from 1 (low-level risk) to 3 (high-level risk). Scoping out and being aware of what could happen will also help with the creation of crisis keyword list (see next point).  

Create and setup crisis keywords and alerts

Creating your draft social media crisis scenarios will help you get a better idea of what potential keywords will need to be monitored for your brand. We’d suggest setting up a spreadsheet with all variations or brand name and crisis’ and applying boolean logic to ensure all eventualities are covered. Have a copywriter check over your list.

Now you have your crisis keyword list, we’d suggest using a social listening tool to ‘listen’ for any public mentions of keywords. If you don’t have the luxury of a social listening tool, you can set up Google alerts which will email you when any mention of that word is shared in a public domain.

Have an SLA which includes key stakeholder details

We’d suggest having a service level agreement within and with your agency or brand, which all team members have agreed to. Within the SLA you need to outline key stakeholders, and who will be the points of contact for a crisis (bearing in mind the scenarios you have mapped out, as there may be different contacts depending on the crisis). You will also need to ensure you have contacts for out of business hours issues.

 

I’m in a social crisis and I don’t have a plan

Don’t panic. Below is a checklist to consider for quickly catching and limiting a social crisis situation (Implement all that are applicable)

Social crisis checklist

On social media channels

  • Pause all scheduled social media posts
  • Pause social ad campaigns
  • Brief social team
  • Set up a social listening stream or Google alert for the issue. Monitor brand/ business name mentions AND issue keywords
  • Evaluate impact on channels and hide comments on Facebook
  • Ban people or keywords from appearing on Facebook page
  • Communicate statement (see below re. Support from PR / key stakeholder). Statement will need to be repurposed by channel i.e. 140 characters on Twitter
  • Take comments/queries from online to private as soon as possible
  • Drive people from social channels to full statement online, if applicable

Away from social

  • Communicate issues with relevant team members – Marketing, PR, operations, MD, Exec board
  • Request / suggest social press release / statement
  • Create full press release if required
  • Create web page or blog entry addressing situation as needed
  • Pause paid ads across all marketing channels
  • Pause marketing emails
  • Assess upcoming planned offer and promotional campaign schedule for appropriateness
  • Check all content for relevant references that could be perceived as offensive or rude in light of the event
  • Notify Senior team members if they have public appearances on that day on need to address (or not) and relevant talking points
  • Provide talking points for executives as needed
  • Communicate to third parties

Apply your learnings

The crisis is over, and despite how painful it was, no doubt that the full team has learned from being involved. Make sure these learnings are captured and shared. We’d suggest the following:

  • Report on your social crisis, including; duration, volume of mentions, sentiment of conversations about the brand pre, during and post the crisis, key social influencers during the crisis, any new learning or advancements in social media to support with the management of the crisis
  • Update the plan, scenarios, keywords (as per section 1) as needed based on learnings
  • Ensure all team involved at each touch point trained on the above and the wrap-up report has been shared
  • Train wider business on implications of brand/business reputation on social media if an incident occurs offline

Have you been through a soical media crisis? Anything to add to the checklists?

Good luck and let us know how you get on 🙂

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