Despite ample planning and preparation, the real-time nature of social media means that attitudes towards a brand can change in a split second. Small issues can escalate into huge problems, user comments and engagement can be positive one moment and disparaging the next and this is something that cannot be predicted. The key to successfully managing a potential social media crisis is to be prepared, act quickly, take the matter offline in order to minimise the risk of any long-term damage.
Don’t risk it – The saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ can be applied to social media. It is important to note that companies should not undertake social media activities that could pose as a risk such as linking to topical news that is off message or potentially sensitive to social media users.
Understand the issue – A problem can only be solved more efficiently once the cause and effect has been defined. A company should ask itself: What initiated the crisis? What are the implications? Can it be taken offline and nipped in the bud immediately? Only when a clear definition is established will a plan of action be more effective.
Act fast – The real-time nature of social media is such that it moves incredibly quickly, even five minutes can make a huge difference when it comes to a social media crisis so reacting swiftly is very important. Even if a company is unsure of which direction to take, posting a small update declaring that the issue is being looked into will help.
Provide a clear response – Passing the buck is a big ‘no’ when it comes to a company’s reaction to a social media crisis, even saying nothing can be damaging. The best thing for all involved is to acknowledge the problem and provide a clear and succinct response whilst assuring users that they are being heard.
Never a problem, always an opportunity – This is a classic PR spin, but it can certainly be applied when it comes to a social media crisis and any social media agency would concur. Businesses should seize any opportunity to correct misconceptions and turn anything negative being said into a positive.