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Shireen Qudosi

Small Business Planning: Crisis Management Tips for Social Media

Feb 29 2012, 04:37 PM by

All of us were taught about emergency preparedness when we were school kids. However, most of us aren’t really prepared for emergencies in the work place, the type that involves terrible PR. As adults, emergencies are dealt with in two ways: crisis prevention and crisis management. Nothing is more detrimental to your marketing than an unmanaged crisis. Left unchecked and unmanaged, a crisis has the devastating potential to undo all your marketing efforts, taint your reputation and leave only a negative image in your audience’s mind.

Crisis prevention involves doing what you can to ensure superb customer service as well as happy and engaged employees. Believe it or not, most workplace crises evolve internally between employees. They can be handled by educating employees on how to manage themselves and how to spot a potential crisis brewing.

Employees should be empathetic by redirecting challenging commentary in a way that acknowledges the individual grievance. Preventive steps also include clear verbal and non-verbal communication and setting/enforcing reasonable goals and limits. The exact same tips should also be applied in all aspects of customer relations.

While crisis prevention is about de-escalating a situation, sometimes our efforts aren’t successful – which is where crisis management comes in. Crisis management was typically handled with a statement, press releases and meetings…in other words, public appearances were kept to a minimal and the emphasis was on limiting the spread of information. Well, with social media, companies don’t have that luxury anymore.

Here are some tips on how to implement social media into your crisis management efforts:
  1. Awareness – Keep tabs on what’s being said about you and your brand on the internet via social intelligence gathering.
  2. Response – Make sure you respond to complaints and grievances in a timely manner. All issues should be fact checked, and know the difference between a response that’s empathetic and a response that accepts liability.
  3. Prioritize – Know how to prioritize responses and relief efforts.
  4. Representation – Whether you have affiliates or company representatives, at the end of the day these people are still representing you. Make sure they’re well trained and know how to respond.
  5. Engage – If someone’s talking about you on social media, don’t be shy to interact with them. Engagement on the smallest levels can make a big difference.
  6. Create Resources – You can’t field every question and every comment. On the same note, you can’t talk to everyone. Beat this obstacle by offering a web page that answers many questions and offers people a simple way to get in touch. If they do get in touch, ensure their calls and emails are being forwarded to the right department or individual who’ll treat them based on a priority ranking.
  7. Protect Yourself – Consider yourself lucky if you get complained about. Most people are a lot smarter than that and will take the time to “get even” – keep in mind grievances are often subjective. Protect yourself by ensuring you own all related domains and versions of your domain so that no one else can set up a fake page. The same goes for social media pages; make sure you claim your profiles. This falls into preventive measures, but can cross into crisis management quickly. If that time comes, be sure you’re up to speed on free speech and intellectual property rights or can at least refer to a smart attorney who will ensure the damage doesn’t spread any further.

Posted in Tips & Resources, Social Media, Growing Your Business

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