How to plan for a social media crisis

social media crisisSocial media crisis situations can come in many forms – it could be a real-life incident, such as a disaster, something happening to a member of staff or a customer complaint going viral. Whatever the original cause, things can escalate on social media very quickly, and not responding swiftly can aggravate the situation, fast.

For example, days after the VW emissions scandal broke, some of VW’s social media channels were still posting promotional content. Needless to say, this didn’t go down well.

VW are far from the first to suffer this kind of social media fail. Crisis situations, business mistakes and social media mishaps happen every day, so the best way to deal with these situations is to plan for the worst. It might never happen, but if it does, you’re prepared.

Set up monitoring and out of hours responsibilities

Like it or not, social media is 24/7. BA learnt this when they failed to respond to a disgruntled customer outside their customer service hours. In the meantime the customer had promoted his tweet and it had gathered significant momentum.

BA tweet image NS Design blog

To make sure this doesn’t happen to your business, set up out-of-hours monitoring. Although you don’t need to be on social media all day every day, having someone on call who can look out for urgent messages can help stop situations escalating.

Put a plan of action in place

If a crisis, disaster or customer service enquiry is urgent and needs a response, put in place a plan for what happens next. There’s no point having someone on call if they don’t have any weekend contact details to escalate an issue.

Your plan of action should include:

  • Confirmation on what issues need to be dealt with, and what can wait until normal office hours.
  • Who should be contacted in case of a crisis situation, and how they can be contacted out of hours.
  • What action should be taken in the case of certain situations, plus processes for getting sign off internally within the company. For example, the CEO might need to sign off a tweet regarding a response to a business error, but they don’t need to get involved with disgruntled customers in the first instance.

Prepare your responses ahead of time

Although it might seem like overkill, preparing responses ahead of time can save valuable time in a crisis situation.

Going through the worst-case scenarios, preparing social media responses and getting them signed off by senior management means that you already have a well thought-out response ready in case of crisis. Although it will depend on the nature of your business, some areas to consider include:

  • Disaster situations such as fires and system failures
  • Staff negligence
  • Death or serious injury at your workplace
  • Customer complaints going viral
  • Social media errors, such as sending out an offensive tweet

Are you ready for a social media crisis situation?

How would your business cope in the event of a major incident like a fire or flooding at your premises, a critical product failure or an employee involved in an accident or criminal act? Put your team to the test with our full day ‘Communicating In A Crisis’ training.

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