By: Hannah Williams
There are all kinds of situations that can go wrong for a brand to trigger a crisis. Whether it’s a poorly timed tweet, a typo, or even a scandal, you need to be ready to deal with a crisis. It is equally important to prevent one from happening. The best way to do this is to plan in advance. Having a strategy for both preventing a crisis and reducing the impact of one can significantly help.
In this blog, I’ll give you 5 tips to prevent a social media nightmare as well as strategies to ease the pain should something go wrong.
It’s easy to go into panic mode if your brand is suddenly flooded with negative social media coverage. Not all companies have the resources to secure a team solely responsible for crisis management. If you fall into this category, ensure each individual on the team is aware of their duties should something occur. Having an agile team of people who are ready to react in an instant will ensure everyone is aligned and all necessary steps are taken.
Next, create a list of stakeholders who should be kept in the loop. Those who you should reach out to will depend on what the crisis is, and the severity of it. So, think ahead about the kinds of things that could go wrong and create a situation analysis. Did a member of your staff put out an off-color tweet? Is there an issue with your product or are you involved in a legal battle? Typically employees, shareholders, and customers will be on your list. Also be sure to include in your plan the best way to get ahold of these stakeholders should an emergency arise.
Be sure to create a template press release or statement. This will save you a lot of time and will allow you to react quickly. There will be pressure to make a comment, but don’t be hasty. Avoid sending press releases before you have all the details of the crisis and a plan of action.
Finally, produce a clear set of response protocols for all staff. No matter how big or small your business, anyone associated with your brand needs to be aware of what they should and should not be saying during a crisis. As a rule of thumb, advise employees not to discuss a crisis without consent from your crisis team. The reason for this is that you want your communications strategy to be aligned. A rogue employee discussing your brand crisis can cause even more problems online.
Simply creating a strategy for a crisis can diminish the impact and prevent it from turning into a social media nightmare.
Find Your Brand Advocates
According to Nielson, 92% of people trust brand advocates. The likely reason for this is that brand advocates are authentic, passionate and don’t have an ulterior motive for raving about your brand.
Brand advocates can often lessen the impact or even prevent a social media nightmare as they will come to your defense when you receive negative coverage. Build these relationships prior to a crisis occurring. Turning customers into brand advocates can be daunting, but it is an achievable goal that can really help you should a social media disaster occur.
Monitor Your Mentions
An additional way to prevent a social media nightmare is to use social listening tools. A media intelligence platform is critical in helping you step outside of your internal bubble and see the bigger picture.
Media monitoring allows you to search for your brand, competitors, or industry keywords. A theme cloud can help you get to the bottom of the situation and find the reason why showing you trending words associated with your brand at that moment in time. Media intelligence platforms use artificial intelligence to allowing users to be alerted when they receive an unusual amount of brand mentions. AI searches for anomalies in data and gives you the head up before the storm has fully hit.
Like most things in life, the quicker you spot a problem, the easier it is to deal with. The same applies for social media crises.
Create an Internal Social Media Guidebook
Having brand guidelines is paramount to success. Whether you have one person running social media or fifty, ensure everyone is aware of how they should be communicating on your business social media pages, as well as on their own personal social network channels.
A few things we’d recommend including in your social media guideline checklist:
The importance of spelling and grammar
The importance of ensuring your tone of voice matches your brand
The need to keep up to date on current affairs: a poor choice of words after a national disaster can cause huge offense. Earlier this year, Adidas sent out an email with the subject line ‘congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon’. This caused huge backlash online due to a terrorist attack that occurred at the Boston marathon in 2013.
The importance of asking someone to look over a post before you send it. Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever.
The need to remain apolitical. However tempting it might be to retweet a critique of a politician, generally you should avoid discussing politics on a business page—unless it is directly relevant.
Avoiding arguing with others
As well as the above, we’d recommend creating a list of scenarios and the kinds of responses social media teams should use. While you want employees to bring personality to their communications, having a response chart can be useful to ensure they stay on message.
Have Security Measures in Place
PC security is one of the most obvious but often the most forgotten elements to include in your crisis communications plan. Update your computer, use separate passwords for each account, and create strong passwords.
If you have lots of people running social media, use a social media management program. This means users won’t need the password to the profile itself, but a login for the social media platform. The advantages of this: 1) the fewer people with the password, the less risk of the account being compromised 2) tweets can be attributed to specific employees.
Social media doesn’t have to be a source of stress if you’re well prepared for anything that can come your way. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be able to handle anything that comes your way.
How have you prepared for any potential social media fallout? Have you ever had a social media disaster?