A social media crisis is an influx of activity on social media that is detrimental and damaging to your company, and it requires a lot more thought than dealing with a negative comment does.

A social media crisis could be caused by a multitude of possible situations, such as a major delay in deliveries, one badly worded tweet, an employee indiscretion, a very upset customer, a faulty product… the list is endless, and they culminate with larger than ‘normal’ volumes of negative feedback and discourse surrounding your company. Even if you have not experienced a social media crisis before, it’s necessary to have a plan in place should a social media crisis arise.

Social listening is one of the best ways to avoid, prevent and rectify a media crisis, but if it’s already too late and you’re receiving backlash on social media and a rush of negative comments, we have the social media crisis management strategies in place to help calm, fix and remedy the situation.

Steps for managing a social media crisis

1. React as soon as you can

The longer you leave your crisis situation, the worse it will become. All upset parties will be waiting for an explanation, an apology, and a solution. If you don’t immediately have a solution or a statement, inform your social media audience that you are working on the problem as a priority.

2. Stop all scheduled and planned posts

Social media crises need to be managed with sensitivity. Continuing to go about day-to-day posting is like pouring gasoline on a fire in a social media crisis situation.

By ignoring or dismissing ongoing backlash or negativity, and not acknowledging the problem, you’re going to anger your social media audience even further and exacerbate the situation. Stop everything and focus all your attention on dealing with the social media crisis you’re facing.

Place your social media content plan to the side until the problem is solved.

3. Identify the key people behind your business to make a statement

A social media crisis shouldn’t be handled by your social media account managers who are responsible for your everyday content – they’re not the business leaders. A crisis statement should be the responsibility of the key directors of the company. Identify the key players within your business, such as your Company Director.

Consider, if the shoe were on the other foot and you were an upset customer, which company member would you want to respond to you? Who do you believe is the best person within your business to put out the fire and calm the situation?

4. Acknowledge the problem

Understand what has happened and why people are upset. Even if the crisis was caused by a misunderstanding or a mistake, it’s important you show your audience that you acknowledge it, rather than overlook, downplay or deny it.

Demonstrate empathy and accountability in your statement. Explain what has happened. If you’re in the wrong, show you acknowledge this. Apologise if necessary, and then, offer a solution to rectify the crisis.

5. Offer your solution in your statement

Without a solution, a statement lacks impact and will not lead to forgiveness. After all, actions speak louder than words! How are you going to ensure this doesn’t happen again? How will things improve? What can you offer upset parties?

6. Respond to comments individually/open yourself up for personal communications

Dedicate team members to internal and customer communications and prepare them for an understandable landslide of emails and messages following a social media crisis. Adopt a customer-centric, people-first approach and give your upset followers details on how they can contact you directly with their concerns, and ensure you respond to them within a quick time frame (set expectations of how long they should expect to wait before a reply from the offset, to prevent further upset).

7. Continue acknowledging the problem until it calms down

Don’t simply put out your statement and communication details for customers and then continue as you were.
Demonstrate how you are working on resolutions to the cause of the social media crisis and how you are moving forward from it. Show your customers how valuable they are to you through purposefully created content and USG until you feel that you have turned a corner and the negative comments and emails start to die down. You can use social monitoring and social listening techniques to inform yourself of this.

Want more? Read:

Handling negative comments and feedback on social media

What is social media listening?

How to build community on social media: a brand’s guide

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