How Many Social Media Crises Will It Take Before You Prepare For Yours?
Recently, it seems that we are reading about a new social media crisis happening to some well known brand, at least every other week. We, here in Ireland have also suffered our fair share with even our last presidential election ultimately decided, by what we lovingly refer to as “the Twitter machine”.
Of course, you would be forgiven for thinking that the likelihood of this continuing would be decreasing, because of the humiliation suffered and the social media community’s ability to drive and draw attention to the embarrassment suffered.
However, this does not appear to be the case with brands often exacerbating the damage by appearing to take the worst possible course of action; their re-actions driven by denial and panic rather than any type of common sense approach.
On observation, it becomes obvious that these companies were un-prepared for what happened and that there was no internal social media crisis management plan, or strategy in place. So, on reflection, what could they have done to prepare properly and more importantly, how can you ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen to you?
Common sense still applies
The first thing to remember is that a social media crises are, in many respects very similar to other crises that companies have faced and dealt with effectively, before. While their reach and the tools may differ, the principles of sound business remain in tact. When dealing with a social media crisis: honestly, common sense, ownership of the situation and making a genuine effort to put right whatever wrongs have occurred – will all help to prevent the damage.
Timing your re-action
Another point to consider is that while you won’t want to re-act in the heat of the moment, you will need to re-act quickly. Not re-acting to what has happened should not be considered an option, as it is merely a very weak response and will be judged accordingly.
- There is a fine balance to be struck between deciding what to say and saying it quickly enough.
- I would suggest that depending on the nature of the crisis, you will need to respond in a min of 24 hrs but ideally sooner than that.
Have your strategy ready
As with dealing with any type of emergency, preparation is key to a successful outcome. This means having a social media crisis management plan ready. The tasks will include:
- To pick up upon what has happened.
- Deliberate and respond to the crisis in a timely and constructive manner.
- Continue to engage until the crisis has died down.
Components of a good plan
While this will differ from business to business, there are a few components that should be common to all:
- Crisis team – a team made up of senior management and your internal social media experts.
- Listening station – “be listening” to pick up upon what has happened in as close to real time as is possible
- Response planning – give your people defined roles and clear responsibilities and create an efficient internal communications and decision making process that results in your public response.
It’s very important to practice/drill this plan so that everyone is familiar with their roles and their responsibilities:
- This will ensure that people don’t panic and re-act foolishly in the event of a real crisis.
- You will secure the best possible outcome for the business and prevent damage to your brand and it’s reputation.
Have you got a social media crisis plan in place for your business or do you believe that it will never happen to you?