Today, it’s impossible to separate social media from successful companies.
Businesses that are great at what they do typically use a variety of social media platforms to spread the word about it. To put it another way: social media has become a standard tool in the digital marketing world. Brands are relying on it more than ever before.
What happens, though, when a social media plan turns into a social media disaster?
Today, simple things like accidentally insensitive tweets or disasters in your industry can quickly spiral your brand into a social media crisis. So do you know what to do if it happens to you?
What Qualifies as a Social Media Crisis?
A social media crisis is bound to take place any time a brand has a high volume of incoming messages. In some cases, a social media crisis occurs because of an external factor, like a tragedy or something happening in the industry. In other cases, it’s the direct result of something a company did. For example, posting an offensive tweet or image, which was the case when Home Depot got in trouble for posting a racist tweet back in 2013.
No matter how a social media crisis happens, though, just waiting for it to blow over is never an option. Instead, brands need to take a proactive approach to the crisis and resolve it as soon as possible.
How to Manage a Social Media Meltdown
If you’re currently coping with a social media crisis, these tips will help you make it out the other side. If you’re looking for a way to manage or avoid a social media crisis, this is a great place to start:
1. Develop an Action Plan
The best time to develop an action plan is before the disaster takes place. In addition to allowing you to cope with the catastrophe more efficiently, this also prevents you from making reactive decisions.
With this in mind, plan what your company will do to deal with a social media disaster before it happens. One of the best ways to do this is to develop a social media committee. Create one that involves people from each branch of your company. This committee should meet on a regular basis, discussing which strategies will best serve your business in the event of a crisis.
2. Establish a Point of Contact
When social media crises happen, they happen fast. To protect your brand’s interests, one of the best things you can do is establish a point of contact. This makes it easy for customers and stakeholders to reach out with questions and concerns. You should educate this point of contact about your company and, preferably, they should hold a managerial role.
3. Monitor the Crisis as it Unfolds
Again, a social media crisis will strike fast and develop even more quickly. That said, you need to track it as it does. A social media monitoring tool is ideal for this step. If you don’t have one, you can simply keep social media tabs open in your browser and refresh them frequently. If you’re getting dozens of conversations coming in through email, find a way to label and track them. This will help ensure you’ve replied to everything.
You can also use your social media accounts to communicate with customers and let them know you’re handling or addressing the crisis. This is one of the most efficient ways to mitigate the effects of the crisis, and will serve your brand well in the long run.
4. Be Honest
If the social media crisis arose as the result of someone’s poor judgment, own it. Even in the example of the Home Depot tweet, which was deeply insensitive and offensive to many of the company’s customers, owning up to the mistake in a matter of minutes made all the difference. In addition to issuing an apologetic tweet, the company also released an email to Digiday, which said: “We’re also closely reviewing our social media procedures to determine how this could have happened, and how to ensure it never happens again.”
While being honest about a mistake can feel scary, it’s one of the best ways to lessen the impact of the social crisis and restore your brand to normalcy sooner. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to laugh the crisis off, or pretend it was just a joke. Your audience will see right through that.
5. Put a Better Review Process in Place
If you use auto-posters like Hootsuite and similar services, you need to have a reliable review process in place. This will ensure your social media doesn’t get away from you. Especially if you have a high volume of interaction on social media. Not only can a good review process save you from a later social media crisis, but it will help prevent your current one from worsening.
The most efficient review processes are multi-step. By requiring each tweet, post, and image to go through a review board before it makes it into your social media queue, you’ll avoid embarrassing accidents. It will also screen out offensive or insensitive material well before it makes it to your audience.
Coping With Social Disasters 101
While no brand wants to deal with a social media disaster, it’s often not a matter of “if” but “when.” Even great brands make mistakes on social media. Knowing how to deal with them can make all the difference. So whether you run a small business or a large multinational firm, these five coping strategies will make it easier to address and recover from a social media crisis, should you be unfortunate enough to experience one.
Do you need professional help managing your social media accounts? Look no further than Thrive Internet Marketing, where our team can help you build, develop, and populate your social profiles. Contact us today to learn more.