Your brand’s reputation and how your target audience perceives it plays an integral role in the success of any business. With around 54% of shoppers turning to social media for product research, a poor reputation in the social landscape can negatively impact sales and profits. Moreover, a social media crisis can turn customers against a brand if not handled abruptly. 

With the right crisis management plan, brands can effectively withstand crises and even win customer sentiment again. The following guide explains how crisis management works and the best practices to stand tall even during the worst social media crises. 

What is a Social Media Crisis?

A social media crisis is an occurrence that can taint a business’s reputation. This can result in unhappy customers, cyberattacks, or bad reviews. 

With social media users spending around 151 minutes on social platforms during their day, such news spreads faster than ever, creating problems for brands.

However, it’s vital to note that not every bad comment or negative feedback is a sign of crisis. To spot a social media crisis in its early days, it’s vital to monitor your channel activity frequently. 

When you notice a sudden spike in negative mentions or comments, it can lead to trouble for your business. Hence, you’ll need a thorough crisis management plan to ensure the effects of such a catastrophe don’t spread to the extent that the damage becomes irreversible. 

How to Effectively Oversee a Social Media Crisis?

An appropriate crisis management draft can rescue your business even from the worst calamities it may find itself in. Here is a step-by-step action you can adopt to handle a social media crisis like a pro.

Assemble a Response Team

Assembling a response team is the initial stage of your plan. Assign each member of your response team responsibilities, like investigation, social media response, leadership approval, internal coordination, public relations, etc.

This team executes your strategy to tackle the problem and inform stakeholders how the business will handle the situation. 

Understand the Situation

Before jumping to act, understand the scale of damage, sentiments, media coverage, facts, and the essential voices. Categorize the type of crisis and evaluate the level of retaliation needed. 

Responding immediately to the market without understanding the situation can sometimes add more fuel to the fire than putting it out. 

Bring Your Team to The Same Page

Once you know the cause of the problem, how the audience has perceived it, and the scale of the disaster, you can gather your team to determine how to respond on all your channels and draft a comprehensive outline for leadership approval. 

The key here is to be as direct as possible.

Respond Promptly

Speed is integral. Once you’ve formed the path forward, share your official response on social media platforms and your channels. Keep all scheduled posts in your content calendar aside and handle this first. 

Assign a team to track and reply to comments without using AI bots. While social media may have been the birthplace of the crisis, the Internet is a vast space. Consider sharing the response on your website or blog for maximum impact. 

Communicate Effectively

Ensure that you express concern for people affected by the whole scenario. Take responsibility for your actions, explain how you’ve managed the problem, and share information for further betterment. Avoid using jargon at all times and remain professional. 

For well-established brands, guiding your customer support team to respond to inbound calls and tickets and document complaints is essential.  

Update All Channels

All the channels you use to interact with your audience, including website, emails, phone messaging, offline locations, blog, ads, and social media, must resonate with your official response. 

You can even amend the FAQ section with updates on the crisis. 

Continue Monitoring Sentiment

Keep an ear out for social media mentions and alter your replies accordingly. Sentiment analysis shows whether your plan is improving brand perception. 

If not, you may need to regulate a post-crisis interview to inspect where the problem lies and update your policies accordingly. 

Best Practices for Crisis Communication

Sometimes, it’s not how well you’ve written a piece but how listeners perceive it.  The following PR techniques have been proven to help businesses win public sentiment and recover from intense crises.

  • Be quick, transparent, and truthful – Address the situation promptly and ensure you don’t appear to be hiding any information. Don’t let the narrative control the story, but get ahead with solutions and offer regular updates.
  • Show empathy – Acknowledge the losses of those affected, communicate how your business is helping them, and ensure the same situation is not repeated. Abstain from appearing indifferent. 
  • Apologize with sincerity – Take responsibility and avoid passing the blame to external factors. 
  • Stick to facts – Assuming or sharing incorrect information creates confusion. Remember to verify the information before sharing and revise mistakes immediately. 
  • Focus on solutions – Once you’ve shared your initial response, it’s time to focus on corrective measures and narrate how you’re advancing from the situation.
  • Update messaging – Don’t post your response and then forget about it. Keep updating your message as you learn new information about the case. 
  • Learn and improve – Adopt an attitude of learning. Learn from the mistakes and share how you use your missteps to enhance policies and focus on future training. 

The Bottom Line

With most users using social media as their go-to source for news, getting your business tangled up in a crisis can devastate your brand. 

However, with the right blend of preparation and productive execution in real-time, your business can effectively manage a social media crisis. 

Remember, the key here is to stay one step ahead of your problems and continue to share operation updates with your customers so they can see how much you care about them.