Dealing with Social Media Crisis

In our marketing efforts we always try to achieve the big numbers, the moment when all the lines start shooting straight upwards. But what happens when things go wrong and a potential crisis is looming? The social media users today have the power to learn the truth and spread their knowledge through these free tools and media they have in their hands. There are plenty examples of popular brands being tested by this social media power – some successfully pass the challenges while others fall down like rotten pears from a tree.

A crisis can start as a result of seemingly harmless actions like logo rebranding or launching an online contest, but can significantly affect the business image and reputation as well as its sales. Other customers might not feel the same about your products or services after few of them have shared their negative personal experiences on the popular social networks. According to HCD research 65% of all respondents who would previously visit or order Domino’s Pizza were less likely to do so after they’ve seen the incriminating video with their rogue employees.

Deal with Social Media Crisis

Whether you are a community manager or a business owner you must prepare ahead for these stressful moments. When social media crisis happen you must act fast in order to lower the possible damages. You cannot wait for the last moment when problems start happening. Think and prepare yourself for how to best handle them. Here’s what you can do:

#1: Constantly monitor your brand

While before companies could focus on their business efforts without worrying too much about what customers have to say about their brands, these days such behavior simply isn’t an option. Before there was a small quantity of user generated content which wasn’t very relevant, but now the Internet’s functionalities are unlimited and even if the business websites don’t allow social interactions Google will make them happen through different tools like Sidewiki for example. The best way to deal with social media crisis is through preparation and prevention.

#2: First listen, and then act

Before you panic and rush things out try to first categorize and understand the undergoing crisis analyzing the conversations, identifying the original talking point, axes and most influential sources that discuss your brand, as well as how all these are connected to each other. This way you can determine what type of crisis you are facing, the phase it is at that particular moment and what action plan scenarios you have available to provide the best response.

#3: Let your voice be heard

In the digital world you only have 24 hours to answer a possible crisis. Even a short line like “We’re working to make what happened right” will be much better than saying nothing at all.

#4: Respond to crisis using the same format and media

In the Domino’s Pizza situation the crisis started with a video on YouTube. The company’s president Patrick Doyle answered the same way – by posting a video apology on the same channel.

#5: Let someone important or relevant respond the crisis

When social media crisis happens it’s best to let it be answered by the company president or CEO because it is their most important role to keep an open and consistent communication flow for the brand to be able to show its engagement. If the crisis is about a technical problem let the most relevant person in your company respond it so the customers can feel you are truly trying to help resolve the issue.

#6: Engage the industry influencers

Online users tend to more trust the industry influencers than the official business media. Google has also increased their contribution and value pushing them higher in their search results. Find time to focus on identifying these influencers and explain to them how you want the problem to be solved. Yes, you can and should apologize to your clients, but you should also show what your company is doing to save the crisis.

#7: Respond the crisis in a unique point

When the crisis spreads throughout the whole web it becomes much harder and potentially dangerous to manage. To show the global community that you are truly engaged you can create a website where openly and transparently you’ll provide full information and functionality resources about the issue.

#8: Prepare for crisis developing social media presence and influence for your brand.

You need to interact, gain influence and share of voice on the social networks before the crisis happens. If your brand has this established ahead there’s a much greater chance your fans will back you up and support your brand than if you aren’t ready or you’ve just started understanding and using these online social profiles.

#9: Don’t use the SEO options in an illicit manner

You must carefully build your brand reputation, pushing up the positive conversations and getting the negative comments down in the search results. This is best done through a long term commitment of company employees to posting regular quality content that’s properly linked to the business website. Black hat SEO techniques can only get you blacklisted by Google and other popular search engines.

Think of the social media crisis as an opportunity for your brand to embrace the moment of truth and show the world how engaged it is with its fans and followers, existing and potential customers. Look for options you can use to convert the PR crisis into a positive online buzz for your brand.

About the Author!

Stephanie Strazinsky is a chief writer at with a background in psychology, e-learning, and marketing.

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