I’m doing a new sort of post today. If you didn’t already know I work for a charity on their social media, so I suppose that makes me fairly knowledgeable about how charities and businesses more generally can develop a presence online, which is something the majority really ought to be doing already for reasons I won’t go into right now.
One of the major motivating factors in getting a company to take social media more seriously and actively take part in it is the possibility that a crisis may erupt on social media, which they’ll need to deal with online. The Domino’s youtube fiasco and Nestle palm oil incident alerted companies to the damage a social media crisis can do to their reputation more generally and highlights the need for a social media crisis strategy.
So here are a few tips for how you can react when/if a social media crisis happens:
- Decide what your company deems a crisis, an issue, and something which just needs to be monitored for now. How do you know when to pull out the full crisis management plan?
- Agree on the line you’re going to be taking and the tone of voice you’ll be using.
- Brief all your relevant employees on what this is make sure they stick to it!
- If you’re getting a vast amount of comments and queries setting up an FAQ will help you be able to better respond to people. Similarly, a video response is a good way to put a face to your company and is more reassuring than impersonal tweets and messages. Agree on how you can set this set before it’s necessary.
- Make friends before a crisis happens- if someone does start making negative comments about you, having a community of loyal fans may help silence them.
- Listen closely. As soon as something hits you want to know about it as soon as possible. Only noticing an “I hate your company” group on facebook or bad customer service blog after two weeks of activity might be too late. Having someone responsible for monitoring online mentions of your company is the best way to do this.
- Don’t be afraid to get involved. If someone has set up a blog documenting all your customer service failures, a “look but don’t touch” policy will do you no favours. Silence is possibly even worse than a bad response.
- Prepare your response beforehand. It is possible, within reason, to have a good guess at the likely crisis’ you might face. Decide what these are and prepare “black pages” of your response which can go live on your web site if/when it happens, these will be useful if they can stop the flow of negative comments hours or days earlier than if you were working from scratch.
- Similarly, you’ll need to work out the specifics. Who is responsible for reacting to a crisis which erupts online? Who do they alert and what do they do? Who replies to comments? If it’s really big you may want to have a team working exclusively on dealing with it. Who are they?
- Do not disable comments. By switching off the ability to write on your Facebook wall or comment on your blog it suggests you have something to hide. Angry comments don’t come across too well, but an angry comment with an apologetic response shows that you’re listening, whereas silencing all your critics will only make them angrier and more determined to have their say.
Just a few bullet points there but hopefully someone will find it useful. Do let me know if you think I’ve missed anything out or have said anything stupid. Or if you think you have any better ideas!
*Note- That’s not a real tsunami, all people are alive and well as far as I know…