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How to Respond to a Social Media Crisis

In the past, we’ve discussed proper etiquette, having a plan, and avoiding a crisis but sometimes, even the best laid plans can fall by the wayside. In the event of an unfortunate crisis, it’s important to know how to respond so that your brand name stays intact and you stop the event from spreading further.

Understanding the crisis: Chances are you’ll learn about what happened before your team does. This will be in the event of several tweets, Facebook posts, etc. A social media crisis tends to fuel fan fire and gets a community involved against you. These messages are usually followed by a #fail hashtag. Ouch. During this time, it’s important to have your legal team, your social media team, and a member of upper management all together immediately to find out what happened, how to respond, and what the best method of action would be.

How far has it spread? Check all your networks, analytics, check your social sentiment and figure out what people are saying about you. Can it be stopped in its tracks? Is it worse than you thought? All these questions need to be addressed in order to figure out how to solve the problem, prevent it from happening again, and how to win your fan base back.

How did it happen? Most social media crisis’ are the result of an employee posting to the wrong account, being disgruntled about their employment, or not understanding the nature of the content that was posted. Since most people peruse social networks on a consistent basis (during lunch breaks, while waiting for coffee, etc), it’s really easy for someone to see the erroneous message, copy and paste it, and spread it far and wide to their networks. Remember: anything you post on the Internet lives forever.

Crafting an apology and taking the blame: In the event of a crisis, it is always best to draft a well written statement explaining the events of the crisis and posting it on your website vs drafting a tweet or Facebook message that gets cut and pasted to each member of your social community. The drafted statement should appear as a formal letter with company letterhead and be signed by a member of upper management apologizing to the fan base. Once this message has been posted, anyone with questions or concern should be directed to the website link of the statement. This keeps all your social media messaging consistent and if there are additional questions, a phone number should be provided.  This accomplishes many things: 1.) it makes you look professional and responsible 2.) it saves your staff the time and energy to copy and paste a tweet and/or Facebook message that will look informal and non apologetic 3.) it will win you back your fan base in spades.

What’s next? After the social media crisis has been resolved, it will be important to re-evaluate what went wrong and why. Does the social media policy need to be revisted? Was it simply a case of poor judgment? Or was it just an angry employee? And how can it be prevented again? If you handle the situation properly and take time to access the situation, your brand will survive and you’ll be able to learn and move forward.

Let us know how you’ve handled a brand crisis and/or what you would add to this list.

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