A social media crisis is a scary prospect for any business or marketer. However, with careful planning and the right attitude, it can be dealt with and managed effectively. Our seven steps to prepare for a social media crisis will help you prepare for the worst.

What is a Social Media Crisis?

A social media crisis is a situation that could negatively impact your reputation through social media platforms. Of course, the odd negative comment is a comment, and this does not constitute a crisis. A crisis occurs when there is a situation in which a wave of negative or offensive statements goes beyond your control.

Seven Steps to Prepare for a Social Media Crisis

  1. Create a crisis team

If a social media crisis emerges or looks likely to, you will need to act quickly. It is therefore important to know who will be responsible for what should this situation arise. Decide who will be in your crisis team and assign roles, so everyone knows exactly what they need to do in the event of a social media crisis. Important roles include a leader, responsible for decision making, and a spokesperson who will talk to the media or the public if needed.

This should be a small team who know and trust each other. The team must be cohesive, so it should include people who regularly work together. Limit levels of hierarchy to ensure decisions can be made quickly and efficiently when needed.

  1. Use tools to monitor your social media

If you don’t know a social media crisis is emerging, it can’t be managed. Use platforms for social media listening and monitoring to monitor conversations around your brand and your posts. These tools will give you advanced warning and help you monitor your reputation over time, so you can take early action to avert future crises.

  1. Create a crisis management plan

Create a plan for managing a crisis. How will you respond in different circumstances? Who will be responsible for taking action? Ensure this is kept to a short and straightforward document so it is accessible and likely to be read by all. This will ensure everyone knows the process in the event of a crisis.

  1. Simplify internal communications

Choose a single internal communications channel to be used in the event of a crisis, such as Microsoft Teams. This will ensure that everyone involved has complete visibility of information as the crisis develops and is managed. This should be written into your crisis management plan.

  1. Create response templates

When responding to a social media crisis, timely and accurate communication are essential. Prepare templated communications materials in advance. Imagine the scenarios which may constitute a crisis for your company and draft materials to respond to these. Even if these are not perfect for the problem you face, it will be easier and quicker to edit these than start from scratch in the midst of a crisis.

  1. Do a crisis drill

Once you have put together a crisis team and management plan, it’s a good idea to do a drill. This will show you how well your plan might work and help you identify any gaps in it or potential issues you may face. You can then revise your plan to make it more robust.

  1. Decide on your approach in advance

Consider the tone you will take in response to a crisis and make sure all are aware of this in advance. It should be consistent with your brand values but also honest, humble, empathetic and human. This will help to deescalate and defuse tension rather than fuelling the fire.

While planning so thoroughly for a social media crisis may seem extreme, the damage to your reputation could be severe if you don’t act fast and take the right approach. Follow these steps to help you prepare for a crisis and manage it efficiently and effectively should it occur.

Become An Expert at Dealing With a Social Media Crisis 

Knowing how to deal with a social media crisis can be a very daunting process. At Oxford College of Marketing have a range of specialist courses designed to help develop your understanding of social media and how to successfully manage social media for your organisation. Find out more about our courses here.