Tweak Your Biz

Home » Management » How Many Social Media Crises Will It Take Before You Prepare For Yours?

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:

  1. Crisis team – a team made up of senior management and your internal social media experts.
  2. Listening station – “be listening” to pick up upon what has happened in as close to real time as is possible
  3. 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?

Image: “A young man holding his hands/Shutterstock

Digital expert, top 10% influencer with over 10 years’ senior management experience - including managing projects and teams, and growing companies in the Irish, international and online marketplaces. Co-founded one of the largest B2B blogs in the world, helped grow a B2B social media to over 1,000,000 members, created the strategy for one of the most effective SME Facebook pages in the world and have grown 3 business websites (, & to in excess of a 100,000 unique visitors per month. Have consulted and worked with both corporate and SME clients on leveraging digital to drive business KPIs. Speaker at industry events, have authored several industry reports on the Digital Economy and appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Business Insider and other leading online and offline business publications. Specialities include: Entrepreneurship Business Development, Start-ups, Business Planning, Management, Training, Leadership, Sales Management, Sales, Sales Process, Coaching, Online Advertising, Blogging, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media Strategist, Digital Strategy, Social Media ROI, User Generated Content, Social Customer Care.

Similar Articles
  • Interesting read Niall, particularly for me in light of a very public PR crisis being played out in the media and online by a large and high profile non profit organisation in America over the past few weeks. It was a fascinating case study to watch unfold – a text book example of what happens when a crisis management plan is not put in place before a corporate decision is taken. In this case, a decision taken by the org. to halt funding to another org.  was heavily criticized in the media and even more so online. Within hours of the announcement of their decision, their social media channels on FB, Twitter, etc. was flooded with angry comments. If they had a crisis plan in place, they would have had a strategy to cope with negative fallout – which they should have planned for in advance. Instead they had to go into fire-fighting mode and in the end they caved into the pressure and reversed their decision – a victory for the internet protesters and a disaster for the brand. In the past, making the decision they did would have created dissent in the media perhaps and some protests, but it would have been controllable. In today’s social media environment, that is not an option. Organisations are no longer in control of the message or the medium  as they once were – it is now the customers and other stakeholders who control things and orgs can no longer afford to be without a cast iron social media crisis plan. 

  • Hi Marie,

    What surprises is that companies who are otherwise very smart when it comes to marketing/communication strategies,fall down so badly when it comes to social. 

    But as you point out, the key skill is in realising that it’s now about influencing rather than controlling the outcome. Attempting to control it! Which previously may have worked with traditional media is like lighting a match to inflame online opinion and activity.Great observations as usual & thanks for sharing.  

  • Warren Rutherford

    Niall – Marie gives a great example, and it followed a large US bank deciding to charge fees for debit cards. The protest, started by one person, went viral overnight, ultimately contributing to a withdrawal of the planned fee.  You raise a series of great points on establishing a coordinated plan, albeit one which should start a campaign on social media.  I wonder how many efforts would be successful were it not for the “Arab Spring” revolt and utilization of Facebook and Twitter to successfully engage protestors.Thanks for sage advice.

  • Thanks Warren, glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  • Joe Lovell

    Hi Niall,
    A really interesting read!! This highlights the need for medium and large organisations to have a social media management tool in place, thus increasing control over what goes out. My company exclusively distributes a tool called the Awareness Social Marketing Hub, which, amongst many other things, allows you to set different levels of permission for different users. I am sure many tools allow you to do this, but it is certainly something that any company with multiple people publishing to SM channels should consider!

    Thanks for an interesting read!
    [email protected]

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

     Thank you for your comment! It’s worth setting up regular reviews, maybe more than once a year to see if the overall strategy is appropriate and, as you pointed out, adopt any changes.

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey


    Thank you for your comment! The benefits are well worth the journey! If there is a way to ease the challenges, then business owners can have a tool that will provide fuel for that journey.

  • Well Done Sian on making such a successful transition as Managing Editor . Merry Christmas to all the bloggers on the team – you have taught me so much through your blogs and I hope this community of engaged colleagues goes from strength to strength – and to top it off the world didn’t end after all . Live Long and Prosper !

  • Thanks Elish – have a great Christmas 🙂

  • Hi Sian,

    Merry Christmas from the BizSugar community. It’s been great to see the growth of the Tweak Your Biz community over the last year and, of course, all the great contributions your great community has shared with ours!

  • Merry X-mas (Yuletide) and a prosperous New Year! I will start to contribute with my own posts in 2013! 🙂

  • Merry XMas and congratulations on the Managing Editorship, Sian. [And to Niall, belatedly, on the wedding.]

  • Fiona,

    Thanks so much for this engaging interview which, in the end, is really about the power of networking. Why is it that more of us don’t realize the importance of this in our everyday business efforts? Also, thanks so much to Niall for sharing it with the whole community on BizSugar!

  • Thanks very much, Heather. I totally agree. Networking is crucial to growing a business and it’s great to gain insights from an expert like Kingsley. Many thanks to Niall for sharing this on Bizsugar. I hope that everyone who views it benefits from it!

  • Many thanks, Niall. You’re right – Kingsley is amazing! His contribution to Ireland is unrivalled and his conversation always fascinating. I’m also delighted that his sense of humour comes across in this interview 🙂

  • Congrats Fiona, on an informative and insightful interview. Kingsley is such an articulate and charming person, with a fascinating story. His knowledge of the global Irish tribe and diasporas generally is second to none. . Great job !

  • Martin

    Great interview, important to see forward thinking in this area in Ireland. Diaspora and networking are closely aligned, the two remain process-dependent and key that we get to understand how these concepts actually function. Again, great to see continued interest in this area. Well done!

  • Thanks so much, Pat, for your high praise. I really do appreciate it! And thanks also for sharing the interview through your social networks. It’s lovely to have the opportunity to feature someone as brilliant, experienced, articulate and unique as Kingsley!

  • Hi Martin, thanks very much for sharing your thoughts. Kingsley’s grasp of the process of networking – and by extension – connecting the diaspora is exceptional and it’s a privilege to learn from him. Thanks again!

  • Another fabulous interview, Fiona! Thanks, so much for sharing. Mr. Aikins is quite an impressive and inspirational man. Many thanks to him, for all his work in bringing the world together, including us here in Beantown! 🙂

  • Top class interview Fiona… Kingsley is the biz!

  • Trust is not an event, and needs to be earned. No truer words from Kingsley. I also love his comments about “creative clusters of connected people”. Time to stop spoofing information and accept it can be easily found online!
    “Diaspora is about place” – very interesting comment also, esp as the world grows smaller and becomes ever more connected!
    Great interview, Fiona and Kingsley – thank you!

  • As a Singaporean your post filled me with pride to see that gorgeous skyline and the picture made me incredibly homesick!

    Its a no brainer – the city state is superior on every competitive metric in the business world. Singapore straddles east and western cultures successfully being such a historically globalized trading centre for the region and the world.
    As a Singaporean-Irish person I can testify that The city state is filled with people with a strong work ethic, pragamatism and the general can do attitude. A working culture that believes in constant search for productivity and new solutions unfettered by colonial hangover.

    There is a dark side in terms of someof its cultural, artistic and political contexts but as a business hub its world class.

  • Personally, I don’t focus on Facebook that well. ROI would be hard to measure since in Facebook everything seems to be clickable and it would be difficult to analyze how viewers would eventually convert but for visibility purposes, Facebook is really an advantage and yes, lots of viewers are could be found Facebook.

  • Thank you Sian 🙂

Featured Author
© Copyright 2009-2017, Bloggertone LLC. All rights reserved.