Social media has quickly evolved into a widely used open forum. Grievances, meltdowns and controversies broadcast across Instagram or Facebook don’t necessarily affect only large companies anymore. The benefits of social media exposure now also come with heightened risks – for any brand, big or small. At Fort Lauderdale and Aspen-based public relations and marketing agency Durée & Company, we know that an effective social media strategy must include the inevitable: crisis management. A social media crisis can be defined as any social media activity that potentially hurts a brand’s reputation. So, it’s even better if you can prevent a crisis before it begins.
Here are some tips on how to handle a social media crisis:
Have a Clear Chain of Command
A chain of command is an official executive list that establishes authority – in other words, who’s in charge in the case of a crisis. This process also helps keep the company organized with all incoming tasks. Having a chain of command will help facilitate smooth communication. Once a chain of command is clearly defined, it’s important to have resources, such as key approved responses, ready for an easy rebuttal.
The designated person in charge should also have a list of social media pages to monitor and should be ready to stop all current promotions including ads, scheduled posts, emails, etc. Furthermore, if a company’s community was hit with a tragic event or if a brand was experiencing a PR crisis for a particular incident, these posts will seem out-of-touch with reality.
Establish a Social Media Policy
Another key component in crisis management is creating a written social media policy. It’s important to educate employees on what they should and should not post to avoid the risk of a social media crisis. The policy should outline best practices and align with the values of each individual brand.
One important policy is to avoid any discriminatory posts that could offend individuals or groups. Posts should always remain honest and factual in order to reflect credibility. An up-to-date social media policy helps maintain brand identity across various platforms. For example, a children’s brand might include quippy, light-hearted phrases, digestible language and kid-friendly facts. Once the team understands the brand identity by consulting the social media policy, no post should slip by without these criteria. Another helpful tool is an approved social media template that can be repurposed as a testimonial post or inspirational message.
A policy also allows team members to act fast if a social media crisis were to occur. An effective social media policy should outline identified risks and be compatible with the company’s culture.
Create a Social Media Crisis Communication Plan
Now that we have established a social media policy, it is crucial to devise a communication plan that can quickly be implemented in times of crisis. Social media makes it possible for these crises to spread in seconds and reach millions of people in a matter of minutes. So, having this plan in place reduces the amount of time spent debating solutions and waiting for supervisor input. This plan should consist of:
- A reference to the social media policy
- Assessing the severity of the crisis
- Chain of command contact information
- Pre-approved messages by a supervisor and other stakeholders
Due to the unforeseen nature of social media crises, it is virtually impossible to prepare for all potential situations. Preparing a plan that addresses how to handle a crisis will alleviate some of the stress associated with the amplification of these issues. Finally, it is important to acknowledge the problem in a timely and respectful manner to demonstrate awareness of the issue at hand.
Learn from Your Crisis and Update Your Plan Accordingly
It is important to highlight the takeaways from a negative situation, such as a PR crisis, and update the plan accordingly. You can harvest your learnings by creating an assessment that allows the company to establish which tactics worked well during the crisis and what could use some more work. A few helpful reflections include:
- How well did the team handle this?
- Can you repair the damage?
- Can you strengthen the brand’s reputation?
- Did you deliver an honest and transparent message?
Brands should always monitor social media channels after a crisis occurs to ensure nothing else comes up. Your brand can take control of the negative incident by responding in a constructive, genuine manner and always striving to make a human connection. Doing so will give the audience the chance to relate and widely accept the apology.
Every great company will undoubtedly face a challenge or two in the dicey world of social media. However, it is certainly helpful to have a plan in place to minimize damage. If you need help with your business’ crisis management solutions, Durée & Company can guide you in the right direction.
About Durée & Company, Inc.
Durée & Company, Inc. is an award-winning, full-service public relations, marketing and special events firm founded in 1999. The firm has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Aspen, Colorado. Durée & Company serves the corporate, agency and nonprofit arenas for local, national and international clients. Services include public relations, social media, marketing, digital marketing, content development, advertising, special events, branding, radio promotions, affiliate marketing and more. Durée & Company clients include well-known names in yachting, business, real estate, hospitality, travel, health and wellness, cannabis and psychedelics, art and culture, fashion, nonprofit organizations, cryptocurrency and technology, legal and professional services. Durée & Company is a member of PR Boutiques International™ (PRBI), an international network of boutique PR firms. To learn more, call 954-723-9350; go to dureeandcompany.com; cannabismarketingpr.com; or psychedelicpr.com. Join the social conversation and follow Durée & Company on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn at @DureeCoPR.