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How to handle a Social Media Crisis

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They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but that’s highly debateable, especially in the age of social media.

It could be a negative comment, a badly timed post, or an ill-thought-out tweet, but the speed of social media can have the power to destroy your whole brand if not handled appropriately. On the other hand, if managed efficiently and effectively, it can give your brand an unexpected boost. It’s a good excuse to show off your effective community management skills!

So how can you successfully handle a social media crisis?

Follow these tips and make sure you’re prepared if problems arise.

1.     Have a social media policy in place

Every organisation should have a continuity plan in place so that if an aspect of their business becomes inaccessible, e.g. the office building, they are still able to deliver their usual service without too much interruption. Social media shouldn’t be any different, so you should have a policy in place as to how you’re going to handle the crisis before it escalates. This should include; who will be responsible for taking action as too many people jumping on board could have just as detrimental an effect as the original issue.

2.     Keep on top of social listening

Are people talking about your brand? What are they saying? Engaging in social listening gives you the opportunity to learn what people are saying about your brand, good and bad, and the chance to deal with any negative reviews before they get out of hand.

3.     Deal with the problem as quickly as possible.

It may initially just be a negative comment, but if you don’t acknowledge the issue as soon as possible then it can escalate into a full-blown crisis. So the sooner you tackle the problem head-on, the easier it will be to contain. Recognising the issue promptly will show your customers and followers that you aren’t hiding away from the issue, and that you value their concerns.

4.     Assess the problem and work out the next steps. If possible, take it out of the public realm.

Can the issue be dealt with easily over direct message or email? Customers will usually want a solution to their complaint. Taking the issue onto a less public platform will help deescalate the situation before emotions get overblown.

5.     Pause any scheduled posts

Consider the posts you have scheduled to go out and if necessary, pause any which may seem like you don’t take the issue seriously.

6.     Stay professional

Always remember your professional tone of voice. Don’t get angry or take things personally. You are speaking for your brand, it’s nothing personal. Automatically deleting negative comments or blocking anyone who disagrees with you can be seen as ignoring the situation.

7.      Learn from the experience:

·      How did it start?

·      What went well and what could you have done differently?

·      What can you do to stop it from happening again?

Social media can be a breeding ground for negativity, but showing your customers how well you handle a crisis, no matter how big or small, will tell them a lot about your brand and how much you appreciate them.

At the end of the day, don’t try and ignore it!

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