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How to Manage a Social Media Crisis

By | 04.24.14
How to Manage a Social Media Crisis

How to Manage a Social Media CrisisRecently you may have noticed that a handful of big companies have made some major blunders on social media. For a company going through a social media crisis it can be an all-consuming experience. And since no company is completely immune, it’s important to have a plan. Here’s how your company can plan and manage a social media crisis:

  • Have a plan: If your company is using social media, then you should have a social media policy that details the steps to be taken if a social media crisis arises. Also, this policy should list the departments or employees that need to be notified in case of a social media emergency so steps can be taken quickly to control the situation.
  • Monitor: The most crucial aspect to a social media crisis plan is listening. Your company needs to pay attention to conversations surrounding your brand and business. If your company is going to have a social presence then it’s important to invest in social media listening tools like Radian6 or Hootsuite, etc. With these tools your company can monitor the conversation inside and outside of your brand.
  • Know what a crisis is: It’s important to understand what a social media crisis is. Try to determine how the crisis originated, how the fan or customer has been affected and why others are rallying behind the issue. Don’t jump in with a canned response or kneejerk reaction; listen to the conversation so your company can better shape an insightful and compassionate response.
  • Acknowledge the crisis: Today’s social conversations are fast paced and when responding, speed matters. Acknowledge the social complaint as quickly as possible, ignoring it will only make matters worse. Answering customer complaints on social media as they arise, while remaining compassionate and transparent, is highly recommended.
  • Always keep your cool: It’s understandable that your company may disagree with claims or complaints that are posted on social media but it’s important to never get into a public argument. This will obviously make things worse and could potentially ruin your company’s chance with future customers or fans. It’s best to work to understand where the customer is coming from so your business can better assist them and respond in a helpful way.
  • Turn a negative into a positive: If your business did something wrong, own up to it. It’s not worth it to try and figure out where the blame lies because that doesn’t make anything better. If your company takes responsibility and acts, you could possibly turn upset fans into loyal customers. Do not delete social media complaints, answer them and own up to the issues that are listed. By deleting complaints, your company will do nothing but add fuel to the fire. Instead, act responsibly and eagerly to fix any customer complaints. With that approach, your company will come out ahead.
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  • Jonathan Dworkin

    Question: How do you address “bashers” who are nasty and cancerous?

    Please advise.

    Thank you.

    • Danielle Celmer

      Jonathan we have come across a few of these users ourselves. In my experience it is key to answer these users immediately and to do everything that you can to fix their issues. Now if you feel that you have done everything you possibly can to make this user happy and they are continuing to bash you on social or across the web it may be time to hide or block this user. Now ONLY do this if you honestly feel that you have solved this users issues and can no longer assist. Always remember to go above and beyond to help though and use this advice as a last option.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Hi Danielle;
    I would like to know how your company can help me to improve my results with adds, the website, etc.
    Thank you in advance for your help,

    • Danielle Celmer

      Thanks for asking Roberto!

      We’d love to help your business. We can build your website and we can get your business ads in front of the right people! Let us create a marketing plan that is specific to your businesses needs, here’s how to get started:

      We are looking forward to working with you!

  • I usually do just as you’re saying, as far as, not deleting negative comments, answering them by owning up to the problem and responding in a positive manner. BUT, what do you do if an angry ex-employee posts derogatory comments and/or insults the company? This has happened a couple of times, and I did, in fact, delete the comment immediately. I didn’t see it as a legitimate complaint. But, I just didn’t know how to handle it, either. I felt that was the best way. If you have some helpful advice on that…I would appreciate your input!

    Dawn Whittington
    Social Media/Advertising Consultant

    • Danielle Celmer

      Dawn great question!

      Glad to hear that you are following my tips! It is safe to stay away from a conversation with angry ex employees because there’s no good outcome that will come of it but it is also important to understand their frustration. I would make sure to take a screenshot of the complaint and share it with HR/legal/management, that way they are aware of the situation and can assist as needed. Then hide it if possible/remove it if needed.

      Also I’d like to discuss the difference between hiding and deleting on Facebook. Let’s say a negative comment was posted on Facebook that you were not going to address because of reasons listed above. I would make sure to “hide” those comments instead of delete them. Hiding a comment will still show up to the user who wrote it but it will not be visible to any fans outside of their network. The benefit to hiding is that the user sees that their comment is still there and if you delete a comment it is clear to the user that it was taken down. Hiding can often help alleviate further issues and you’ll still have access to the comment for your records.

      You have a great understanding of how to handle these situations, always remember that there is something to learn from every complaint. If you continue to have issues with the same users over and over please see my response to Jonathan in the comments.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Not everyone considers a social media crisis, a crisis at all. For example, when a tragedy strikes, and a group of professionals, like mental health counselors, rush in and save the day, the public says thank you. The crisis can be averted next time. And of course, the mental health counselors will be in schools instead of the search procedures and gun screening. [I’ve never seen this mental health gate tried on a news media scale which could even be called a dearth of imagination or of scientific study and comparison.]

    Sales also are increased by perking the interest of people and potential buyers. So, it’s been tried and true that “bad press” can actually increase sales. This is not to promote “bad press” but to indicate that the tabloids keep on because of the interest it raises from the day to day humdrum. “Letting the public know” has been the aim of organizers for centuries, as a strategy to enlist aid in the struggle against matters often held out of their view.

    • Danielle Celmer

      Great points Julie! I also agree that not everyone considers a social media crisis a crisis after all, and to be honest everyone is going to handle situations differently. My main goal from this article was to ensure that negative situations are being addressed and given proper attention, crises or not. You’re right though, most of the time bad press is going to get more attention because the public takes it and runs with it. Hopefully though, people are becoming better prepared and equipped to put out flames if needed.

      Thanks for reading Julie!

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