8 Steps to Consider when Developing a Social Media Crisis Plan

May 26, 2016 / Philippa Crick Social Media Crisis Plan

Social media is a dynamic persuader of customer perception and a fundamental communication channel. However, it can also be an unruly place that you must be constantly prepared for.
 At the heart of any social media communication is your brand and it needs safe guarding online just as you would other places.

With over 1.6 billion users on Facebook alone, the potential for social media being incredibly creative or destructive for your business cannot be understated. Having a social media presence and understanding how to deal with the associated problems, is not an option.

Standard public relation rules and guidelines do not apply to the unique problems and crisis that can arise. Developing and implementing a crisis plan specific to social media is critical for an organisation of any size. Here are 8 key steps to consider when developing a social media crisis plan:

  1. Create a social media policy for your staff
    A strong social media policy is your first defence against a crisis. It will help guide your organisation and staff in managing crisis on your various social media channels.
  2. Map it out
    Work out your plan of attack. Aside from delegation, how will you deal with trolls, upset customers, misinformation and other problematic media content. Consider creating a visual guide as well which could be easier for staff managing the crisis.
  3. Respond like lightening
    In the social media world, a minute late could be hundreds of comments late.
Use web-tools such as Social Mention to keep abreast of breaking news and business reports. Often the web will know about a potential crisis for your business before you do.
    Pre-empt a crisis if possible. This sends a message that the company feels strongly about its responsibility to the consumer and its ability to weather the storm.
  4. Respond to the customer consistently and regularly
    Use the techniques and response protocols outlined in your crisis plan to respond consistently and regularly. Unhappy customers who are ignored are lost and will spread the word.
  5. Be Real
    Part of your protocols should be to create genuine statements that address common issues and comments. Disingenuous, standardised PR sound bytes will lose you support.
  6. Use a megaphone
    Let your customers and business associates know your position, through as many media channels as you can. Being proactive in taking responsibility will show general care.
  7. Track your crisis
    Watch how the crisis is developing. Carefully go through comments to assess the atmosphere. Make sure to cover other sites for conversations you may need to respond to.
  8. Post crisis discussion
    Review the event’s issues and advantages with your social media team and what you could do better the next time. Use this discussion to create a generalised plan adaptable to a variety of crisis.