How to respond correctly: Social Media Crisis Management

We all know and love social media. It’s usually the first think we look at when we wake up and the last thing we look at before we go to bed! So many great things can come from it. Sharing life updates with family, watching your friends travel the country, see the newest products come out accompanied by the newest trends, promoting your business and so much more. Social media is for everyone whether is be for personal reasons or for business and marketing use. All is well behind the screen in the social media world until you run into a…

Social Media Crisis

Luckily theres ways to manage these media catastrophes, so let’s find out how to defuse the fire of a social media crisis!

What is a Social Media Crisis?

A social media crisis is anything posted online by a member of the company, customer, or any other person that can cause harm to the company’s reputation or hurt the ability to conduct business.

Social media crisis management is a way to control the fire after its been lit. Before the marketing team of a company can think to respond after a crisis they have to develop a plan and be prepared.

First, a business will conduct a marketing team to be equipped for anything when it comes to a social media crisis. Every organization should have a listening procedure in place, so that someone is watching the platforms at all times. This could also be accompanied by alerts or monitoring keywords, hashtags, and influencers. Another thing that the team will always want to keep updated is a contact list of any and everyone they would need to immediately contact the minute the find out about the crisis involving the company. Lastly, you want to know what is and what is not a crisis. Don’t get confused between a few hate comments and the company’s reputation being dragged by a famous celebrity!

Now that you identified your company has a social media crisis, what now?

Act FAST! There should never be a second that you think, “maybe they don’t know yet, or maybe this has not gotten out yet and we can take it down.” It has been screenshotted and shared more times that you can count and there is no going back, so you have to assume the information is out and prepare for what to do next. With that being said do not delete any comments or avoid the crisis. Always acknowledge the situation, do not act like it is not a big deal or downplay it. You must validate the peoples concerns. Be polite and empathetic. Words go a long way, especially when your company is depending on it and 100,000 people are waiting on an apology! Being open and honest is key to winning your followers over.

Let’s respond!

Let’s talk about what platform is best to address the situation. Wherever the crisis originated is where your apology should go. Even though it has probably spread to multiple platforms, you must find the original post and apologize on that platform first. After that you will share to all other social media platforms. 

When you are making your apology you must be authentic. Posting an apology video over text can be beneficial if you are sincere and empathetic. If you think your audience would not react well to this or the video is not meeting your standards, then play it safe and post text.

Have a FAQ ready for when people have follow up questions after your apology is posted so people are not commenting the same questions across all platforms. 

Examples of questions/links to information: 

  • When did the company find out about this? 
  • Steps taken to prevent future occurrences
  • Details of occurrence  
  • Apology letter from CEO
  • Specific actions taken 
  • Contact Information for further questions 

And most importantly turn off your scheduled posts! Do not continue to post for your brand when you are going through a social media crisis, your followers will eat you alive!

We all know the saying, “the customers always right!” This is what you will live by. Do not argue with people online, don’t insult your customers, encourage positive dialogue, and most importantly be authentic. 

Let’s take a look at a social media crisis from a local business that is loved by so many and tragically declined in business due to not handling a crisis correctly. 

Worthy the label is a popular and loved health and beauty company who live by girl power and self love! Recently the owner and CEO, Megan Hannigan, had publicly been posting about mental health issues on her personal page and taking a break which was recently followed by all her staff abruptly quitting the company. While it helped that her staff were mostly all social media influencers, it did not help the companies reputation after customers were finding out the girls no longer worked with Worthy. Not much was said and it was dismissed which started the social media crisis when customers demand answers and got nothing in return. 

A few weeks later Megan posted an apology about some orders not being shipped out and you would think that is the right thing to do, but it was not as sincere or factual as people hoped it to be. Many people were commenting about Megan’s mental health, children, and life in general. They were calling her a liar among many mean names while making many accusations. I believe it so important to be personable with your followers, but this is also where it can turn on you when your followers know too much about one’s life and proves that it is important to set boundaries.

She eventually turned off the comments (see below) which was the wrong move in this social media crisis. Her customers wanted more than the apology of their missing products, they wanted the truth and Megan avoided the situation and left. Several months passed and Megan posted that Worthy was back in business. Luckily the post did well in engagement, but who knows what her sales will look like and if her loyal customers will remain loyal after being mistreated. 

Everyone needs a Social Media Crisis Management plan. You think that it would never happen to you until it does. A lot of the times you can have no control over the situation and it happens to be a miscommunication or something slips out the wrong way at the wrong time. It is better to be safe than sorry and be able to have everything under control the minute things go wrong rather than risking your companies reputation and sales over an instagram post gone wrong! 

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