social media crisis management

For businesses small and large, social media can be a powerful tool if used correctly. Brands have the ability to manage customer relations, share industry news, market products, and more. But while the advantages are significant, there are also some serious risks.

News travels fast and posts can, sometimes inexplicably, go viral. Due to its global scale, mismanaging your social media presence can be utterly destructive to a person, company or organization. Social media crises can present themselves in many different forms, and whether they are self-inflicted or come from an external source, the outcome can be severe.


How to Best Protect Your Business   

Whether your social media manager accidentally “liked” a controversial post, an angry customer posted about an unpleasant experience they had or a disgruntled employee made harsh claims about the company, social media crises can arise from countless circumstances. However, with proper planning and management, many of these situations can be contained. Here’s how:


1. Establish a Social Media Policy

Implementing a company-wide social media policy is the best way to ensure that your brand is being protected from a potential social media crisis. This policy should clearly outline employee expectations and appropriate use across all company accounts.

Your company’s social media policy should also include copyright guidelines that instruct how to properly use and credit third-party companies; privacy guidelines that outline how employees should interact with customers online; confidentiality guidelines that specify the information employees are allowed to share, and brand voice guidelines that describe the tone that should be used to create posts.

Additionally, this policy should provide guidelines for how employees conduct themselves on their personal accounts. Social crises can just as easily arise from a post on an employee’s account as it can from an official corporate account.


2. Crisis Management Plans are Key

Establishing company-wide, proper crisis management planning allows company executives to act at a moment’s notice and take control of a social media crisis from the start. All crisis management plans should include clear guidelines for identifying a crisis and assessing its severity. They should also outline the roles and responsibilities of each team member involved. Additionally, your company’s crisis management plan should contain approved messaging for the media and your social accounts.

Quick reaction time is critical in these situations, and a well-constructed crisis management plan will cut down on the severe stress of last-minute decision making.


3. Stop all Scheduled Posts

Once you set your crisis management plan in motion, your social media management team should halt all scheduled posts. Keeping your normal social schedule during a crisis will give off the impression that the company is trying to ignore the situation. This may only aggravate your audience, making recovery even more difficult.

If you do decide to send out a social post, it should be one that acknowledges the problem, relays sincerity to the audience and offers the promise of more information in the short term.


4. Resume Engagement with Discretion

Your crisis management team should have in-depth messaging at the ready. This can be applied to an official statement, a press release and a letter (or video) from the CEO. Unfortunately, issuing the appropriate statements and messaging will not satisfy all customers, and you may be required to engage with some individuals directly on social media.

Reaching out to online consumers should be done carefully and with discretion. Keep your responses short and informative, and offer other means of communication—email, phone number, private messaging, etc.—to move the conversation off of social media.

Contact us for more information on how Red Banyan helps clients effectively manage a crisis.