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8 steps for managing a social media crisis more effectively

22 May 2014 | 03:44 am

Social Media CrisisIn a survey by Deloitte “Exploring Strategic Risk”, 300 business executives from around the world identified social media as the greatest threat to their business. With reputation cited as the number one risk factor there are some key things to consider when examining the risks to your business posed by the increasing use of social media.

 Anyone’s voice can be heard on social media:

  • Companies find it harder than individuals to control bad news 
  • Social media and web search facilities mean complainants can easily become aware of others who share their view 
  • Bad news travels faster than good news 

When something goes wrong on your social media, how you deal with it will determine the impact it has on your reputation, so you need a crisis plan in place should you be faced with a social media crisis. However, if things do go wrong what should you do?

  1. Act quickly – although it is tempting to wait to see what the reaction is, or even if anyone noticed be proactive and speak to your audience as soon as possible. It is better that you control your message and answer your critics rather than let others do it for you and put more damaging information into the public domain. Don’t spend time trying to find out how the crisis happened and who was responsible, deal with it straight away and ask questions later. 
  2. Take charge – ensure that the public perception is that your company is managing the risk proactively and responsibly. The press has carried many examples of organisations burying their heads in the sand when the “tweet hits the fan”. Taking charge is a great way of reducing the media impact associated with the issue. 
  3. Be truthful – the advent of whistle blowers means you can’t cover up issues but have to be open and honest thereby controlling the response and not be open to further accusations of a cover up. 
  4. Use clear English – don’t hide behind corporate speak and industry terms but explain your response in clear and concise language. Saying sorry in a sincere manner will go a long way to maintaining your reputation. 
  5. Spread the word – use every means at your disposal to get your message out into the market. Ensure you have statements on your website and use traditional PR channels in addition to your social media channels. 
  6. Encourage dialogue – although you are in the middle of a crisis you will still have support from your customers. Engage with them to encourage their support and give voice to positive comments. Make your responses clearly visible so supporters can also join the debate. 
  7. Deliver on your word – if you promise an action following a crisis then make sure you deliver on this. There will be people who are checking to see if you were true to our word and if you do not fulfill the promises you made there is great potential for comeback and further damage to your reputation. 
  8. Social media is also your friend – it may have fuelled the crisis but it can be used for a positively to manage and control the outcome. It is the easiest and fastest way of getting your response to as many people as possible so use it to your benefit.

There are a plethora of examples around the world where social media misuse has created a crisis. The lessons to be learned from this are two-fold; ensure you have a clear plan in place to deal with a crisis taking into account all of the points above and look seriously into investing in a social media risk management system which will help you avoid these problems.

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