09 Jan 2017

Social Media Crisis Management

We live in an age where the most insignificant events can go viral within minutes and can put the brand reputation at brink. Today, if a crisis breaks, we turn to Google or the social networks. Gone are the days when we would wait for the news on TV or the next morning’s papers.

Blame the internet or the audience’s habits for the new age of crisis!

Brands no more have the luxury of time to consider a response to a crisis situation. Social media/networks work as a platform where netizens add fuel to the fire and amplify the situation further.

It’s important for brands to keep their eyes and ears open to identify a potential crisis on social media. Brands must use social listening tools like Sysomos, Meltwater etc. to keep a track of the social conversations and identify any potential crisis on social media.

Situations that might alert you on a potential crisis:

Brand starts trending on social while there was no product / launch announcement made

If your business sees an unexpected spike in conversations, you may have a crisis in pipeline. – @TheDigitalLad

When you start to read and track things that you might not expect to read otherwise

Your influencers and champions also might alert you to things they hear/see on social media. – @MsWr1te

When does negative feedback become crisis?

When increase in traffic on the website results in low revenues/ time spent et al, despite pumping in $ to drive audiences. – @1DigitaLife

Ignorance – Ignoring negative comments / feedback that your customers might have about the brand can lead to crisis

While ignoring negative comments / feedback could lead to crisis, NOT KNOWING who you are responding to or AUTOMATING the response for everyone can also lead to a crisis situation.

Remember, how Sachin Tendulkar took his anger about his bad experience with British Airways on Twitter? When the BA airline Twitter handle asked Sachin about his full name/address etc, Twitter went berserk and the hash tag used by Sachin, #NeveronBA started trending in just a matter of minutes in India.

That said, it is imperative for brands to have a social media crisis strategy in place to be able to react quickly and minimise the damage.

In Chinese, the word “crisis” is made up of two words – “Danger” and “Opportunity.” For every danger that a crisis presents, there is an opportunity for the brand to show who they really are. It is an opportunity for the brands to #ShowUCare.

How can crisis be managed on social media?

First and foremost, don’t be defensive and accept if something went wrong. Address it head on. Don’t avoid, hide or lie as the truth will eventually get out. Be transparent in your communication online and offline. Do not delete comments, hide or run away from crisis

Share the response on brand’s social channels at the earliest and clarify any questions that your fans and followers might have. DO NOT automate response. Individually reply to your audience and #ShowUCare

Prioritise your response: If the negative conversations are coming from someone with larger reach, influence, Klout, you should address them first. Immediately answer disgruntled customers

Monitor in real-time what the audience is saying. Social media monitoring tools like Sysomos, Meltwater etc. come in handy to see, read and respond to all social conversations. Customise response according to the audience type and conversations

The idea is to drift the volume of negative conversations towards recovery. At the same time, find positive conversations, amplify them with the help of evangelists and employees. – @TheDigitalLad

In today’s age, Live video might be the best way to react at the moment of crisis. However, the spokesperson must have the facts right! While this might be the quickest way to clear a brand’s stance and connect with the audience, one must remember to have a sustained engagement with the audience during crisis either through videos or relevant social channels where the audience can be reached at.

Preempt situations, prepare incidence response mechanism, train spokesperson and respond immediately. – @TweetsAnup

A storm always calms down, but your business will be judged on its reactions. So have a crisis management plan in advance. Anticipate and prepare a plan to mitigate the impact and repair the damage caused.

What do you think are the best practices for dealing with crisis in the digital age? I’d love my readers to share their experience of managing a crisis situation in the comment section below.

The article first appeared on LinkedIn.



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