Every business with an online brand presence fears the day they run into a social media crisis. It could be anything, and there are plenty of recent examples. Taco Bell had an employee caught licking food, some companies have been hacked (not “hacked”, Chipotle), and sometimes drama that should be resolved within the company spills onto social media, such as the Amy’s Bakery freak out not too long ago.
While most brands with solid social media presences most likely have steps or employee guidelines to prevent problems like some of these, it is impossible to be fully prepared for a social media crisis. You can’t prevent hacking or service outages. But, as the business owner or social media manager, it is your job to manage the crisis and steer the ship out of the storm. If you do it well, you may even end up attracting some new clients. If you fail, your entire company can go up in flames.
As the VP of marketing for Nextiva, Yaniv Masjedi has some experience dealing with catastrophes both online and off, and he says the most important thing you can do is have a plan. “Every business should have a minute-by-minute strategy for how it will deal with a service shut down or public relations disaster.”
You need to know who will be handling the social media, how they will have access, and what the messaging across platforms is. Will you have a team responding to social media, or will it just be you manning the ship until everything dies down?
Masjedi published a step-by-step guide on the Huffington Post to help with handling these huge messes and preventing any extra damage once your social media has gone into full alert. You will have to be on your best game and be patient and understand with customers even when they are being rude or inappropriate, and you have to have a clear united message that doesn’t seem like a stock response, but an established response to whatever situation has arisen.
Before you ever run into these problems however, sit down and go over the guide and make sure you know how your company will respond in crisis. You can’t be prepared for everything, but you’ll be much better off knowing how you will approach any problems.