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How Are You Prepared for a Social Media Crisis?

Social Media Crisis

From GoDaddy (twice), to Chapstick, Lowe’s, LA Fitness, Timothy’s Coffee, PayPal, Fontaine Santé, Red Cross, McDonald’s, and the list goes on… This past year has seen a massively wide range of social media crises – both big and small, successful and disastrous.

As more and more social media crises break out online, you’d think we’d be seeing brands getting progressively better at handling and resolving them. You’d think! Instead, it seems that brands are continuing to tie in their lack of better judgement, and lack of a response strategy.

It’s as though we get overwhelmed when a social media crisis strikes, and forget the basics of rationale and common sense.

A social media crisis, in effect, is very similar to crises that brands have been facing traditionally for years. Yes, there is a difference in potential reach, and there is always the fear of the viral-ability, but in essence, if we keep the fundamentals of our business in mind, there’s no need to loose our heads and make irreparable mistakes.

The success combo

Common sense, humility and a “customer-comes-first” mentality will get you half the way. The other half is made up of honesty, optimization and reach.

The only place where we should see a very damaging affect, is for the brands who lack in their social and moral ethics. But those who do, always have. These brands just come to light through their social media crises – getting seen for who they have always been. These are the brands who should fear a crisis, but for the rest of us, if we keep our cool and act accordingly, we can prevail. And the best way to keep our cool and come out strong, is through preparation.

The secret is in the preparation

Being prepared offers an overload of benefits to your brand. For one, you’ll be looking at less panic and incompetence during an attack, which means more focused and positive action, and reaction, from your team.

Being prepared means having a strategy in place.

As a fire drill makes sense for the safety of your staff, being prepared with a social media crisis plan makes the same amount of sense for the safety and reputation of your brand. In the case of a fire drill, you have a practice run so that everybody understands the order in which to evacuate the building – neatly, in single file, working as a team to get out safely. After the drill, you feel confident and relieved that, in the case of an actual fire, everybody in your building knows how to react, and you won’t find them running around in a panic, screaming and putting themselves in further danger.

It’s the same for a social media crisis. When you prepare your team with a solid strategy and a plan of action, everybody knows their role and what’s expected of them. And you can feel confident and relieved that, if and when, your brand gets hit with a social media attack, your team will work together to regain control and overcome the situation, calmly and efficiently.

So what’s the minimum you should equip your team with?

If you don’t plan to take the time to put a full crisis management plan together, then there are some basic steps you can take that will give you a good foundation for reacting and responding to a crisis. At the very least, you should be equipped with the following:

A Crisis Management Team

Preparing your brand with the proper crisis management team is the first step to a calm, cool and collected response to an attack. When people know and understand their role, their responsibilities and what’s expected of them, it’s much easier for them to react and regain control of the situation.

At the very least, your crisis management team should be made up of:

  1. Monitors: Their role is to monitor the online discussions, allowing you to detect a crisis in the making.
  2. Responder: This should be someone from higher up in the company, (company president, VP, etc) who will take the role of addressing the crisis publicly and responding accordingly.

A Response Strategy

Once you have your team ready and understanding the importance of their roles, you’ll need, at the very least, a basic plan of action. You can make it as simple as a check list of reaction and response strategies to keep you organized and focused throughout the crisis.

At the very least, make sure you know:

1- Where you will respond:

Remember that you should always respond on the same platform that the crisis initially broke out on.

2- How you will respond:

If you know what’s going on, as well as if you don’t.

3- How to optimize your response for maximum reach and find-ability:

You want your response to the crisis to reach the maximum amount of eyes and ears as possible. What is your strategy for accomplishing this?

As you see, a basic strategy is as simple as having answers to the questions above – and of course sharing those answers with your team. It doesn’t take that much time, but it will make a world of difference when you find yourself face to face with a social media crisis of your own. Don’t let your brand be caught off guard – sleep easy at night knowing that you and your team are prepared!

Are you equipped with a social media crisis plan? Is it basic or complex? Do you have a team of people ready to take action if needed? Tell me how you’ve prepared for a potential crisis in the comments area below!

Image © olly – Fotolia.com

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