How to ensure you’re prepared for a social media crisis

If the last time you looked at your social media crisis plan was more than six months ago, it’s time to review it.

Don’t have one? There’s no time like the present.

Do you have a plan for every kind of social crisis?

You should have specifics in place for each of the following situations:

You messed up (a little)

Maybe it was a typo or an intern who accidentally tweeted from the brand account instead of their own. This is the kind of small crisis that can usually be rectified by deleting the rogue tweet, acknowledging it and even making an appropriate joke (as the Red Cross did once upon a time).

Having a plan for this minor type of offense will keep your team from possibly blowing a smaller mistake into a bigger one by overreacting.

You messed up (A LOT)

Sometimes a brand really, really messes up. An ill-thought-out campaign, a tone-deaf joke— human nature’s own folly is the limit since brands are all run by people in the end. This is the type of crisis most people imagine.

We’ll go over how to deal with it and share resources in the next section.

Trial by association

An influencer you worked with or someone else related to your brand is in trouble. Even if you’ve very carefully vetted who you hire and who your brand works with in other capacities, sometimes someone goes rogue or has a dark secret they’ve hidden very, very well. Response options for this one are very similar to those for a crisis a brand has created themselves.

(That the public may hold you just as accountable as the person who actually caused the crisis might not seem fair, but it’s not something to be changed either.)

Consider your response options

There are three main response options for social media crisis that brands tend to enact: Respond immediately, remain silent, or enact a cooling off period before your official response.

  • In the first, your brand will respond immediately, based on your plan, and try to put out the fire or at least stop it from spreading. Take the heat as needed.
  • In the second, your brand will remain silent, knowing that the news cycle will eventually move on. Day, weeks or in some cases even months later, you resume activity as usual.
  • In the third option, your brand waits for a “cooling off” period of time before releasing an official statement on the matter.

You can see examples of how different brands implemented each of these different responses here.

How is your social listening?

The best way to prevent a crisis is to have comprehensive social listening in place to monitor your brand, branded hashtags, industry keywords, competitors and more. This is the easiest way to catch an issue before it blows up and worse case scenario, goes viral.

If that’s something we can help you with, let us know. We’re always happy to help.

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