3 Steps to Dealing with a Social Media Crisis [FLIPBOOK]
When social media disaster strikes, you’d do well to remember these three key steps...
It’s the moment that every organisation, large or small, may one day have to face. You’ve had night terrors about this apocalyptic day. And then it hits. The infamous social media crisis is upon you. Are you prepared?
First of all, don’t panic. 9 times out of 10, what you think is a disaster is simply a natural part of the social media platform — you should expect to get negative feedback as well as positive.
What’s important is how you deal with it.
So what constitutes a social media crisis?
A social media crisis is more than just a bad review or a snarky tweet.
It’s when a major issue about your brand is raised on a social media platform and attracts significant negative attention:
The issue affects or is of interest to a very large portion of your customers or prospective customers and has potential to do lasting brand damage.
1. You don’t know what’s happening
2. There is a spike in commentary or a new topic of conversation
3. An issue with very broad impact or interest is raised
Source: The 3 Identifying Features of a Social Media Crisis (Brass Tack Thinking)
A perfect example is the Dominos fiasco of 2009. Two employees posted a grisly YouTube video showing every fast food customer’s nightmare of goings-on in the kitchen. A social media storm ensued.
So what can you do when it all hits the fan? Here are 3 steps to get you started...
STEP ONE - Rapid response
Don’t hang about waiting to see where things will go; take control of the situation.
It’s vital to respond to the crisis as it develops, so start by tracking it down to the source — the original tweet, video, Facebook post — that kicked it all off.
Then respond. Let your community know that you’re aware of the situation, and you’re doing everything to resolve it (which you should be). It also helps to tell them you understand their anger or concern.
Engage on multiple platforms if necessary, but don’t forget the one where it began. If it was a tweet that sparked the crisis, make Twitter the focus of your efforts.
Your aim is to calm the situation, but not to shut people up — that’s impossible. Impersonal ‘press release’ or ‘no comment’ responses just don’t cut the mustard any more.
And don’t even think about trying to erase a negative comment or thread. As Nestle found, once your community suspects censorship, a thousand more will spring up in its place!
STEP TWO - Take it outside
You should consider asking particularly prickly customers to ‘step outside’ for a one-on-one.
Not in the Western shoot-out sense, of course —- that would turn a crisis into a catastrophe faster than you could shout ‘draw!’
Instead, the idea is to identify the most dissatisfied and vocal members of your community, and address their concerns in a more private way. If on twitter, follow them and send a direct message. Get their email address or their phone number so you can offer a personalised resolution.
Why direct people to an offline communication method like email? You may have to resolve the crisis according to individual circumstances, or you may have to offer something you wouldn’t generally offer the public to resolve the situation.
Source: All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for Brands (Radian6)
But remember that transparency is key. You should continue to engage with your community as they air their concerns, showing that you are listening and responding.
STEP THREE - The grand gesture
Sometimes it’s not enough to just be sorry. You have to prove it.
Like oil spills, the biggest social media disasters demand a hands-on solution to salvage a brand’s reputation. The current trend in grand brand gestures of apology is the video response.
When a naughty FedEx employee was caught on camera tossing a computer over the addressee’s fence, the video went viral at an express speed no courier could compete with.
Although left playing catch-up, FedEx managed to save the day with a heartfelt video apology from the Senior Vice President.
It doesn’t always have to be a video. For smaller brands, extending a special offer to customers can work just as well. You should look at the specific crisis and your community before deciding exactly what would be the best way to win back their confidence.