Social Media Crisis Management: 5 Principles You Need to Apply

on October 16, 2018

Social Media Crisis Management: 5 Principles You Need to Apply

An issue with your product, a defamatory post, a regulatory complaint – a social media crisis can spark for various reasons, and when it does, things can turn awfully chaotic. From angry customers flooding your Inbox, to users giving you 1-star reviews – your marketing team must act swiftly and proactively, or else, your brand reputation may be damaged. So to help you get any type of crisis under control, these are the 5 principles you need to apply for a smart and effective social media crisis management plan.

1. Be Transparent

The first principle of any social media crisis management plan is transparency. During a time of public outrage or chaos, the truth will always prevail. Providing honest and accurate information to prospects, customers, and partners is key to fostering public trust in your company.

As we live in an “always-on” social media environment, prettifying the facts or telling people what’s right for the business (not for them) will only harm your image. A company caught in a lie will see relationships it has carefully built over the years destroyed.

A good social media crisis management plan doesn't include lies

Transparency also involves being articulative without making promises you can’t keep. Explain the causes of the problem at hand and how you plan on fixing it. Being the one to report the information is far better than having angry Tweets take control and influence over the social media environment.

2. Take Accountability

The second principle of your social media crisis management plan is accountability. Acknowledging your mistakes and owning up to them will ensure your brand is perceived in a more positive light. No matter what, don’t point fingers at external factors or be defensive.

Especially in a public sphere like social media, your company should demonstrate maximum responsibility towards its audience. This means being 100% accountable for whatever issue you may be dealing with.

Publishing a sincere apology will go a long way in mending the relationship with your customers. It can also open a channel for dialogue and relieve any anger.

In 2017, Marketo experienced a crisis of its own after its website domain crashed. Below is how their CEO, Steve Lucas, handled the situation on Twitter:

Marketo apologized as part of its social media crisis management plan

3. Reply to Audiences Personally and in Real-Time

The social media paradigm has shifted and people expect timely and personal communication.

During a crisis, your social media feeds and inboxes may overflow with comments, direct messages, and mentions. Nearly 70% of people report using social media for customer care. So it’s only natural that social media is the place where customers go to vent or seek answers.

social inbox is part of a smart social media crisis management plan

Whether you’re receiving negative, neutral, or positive feedback, your number one priority is to be available. Customers will expect you to respond in real-time and demonstrate your proactiveness in fixing their problem. This is where Oktopost’s Social Inbox comes in! Streamlining all of your incoming conversations into one place, it enables you to deliver fast, timely, and personal responses, at scale.

4. Prepare Answers and Messaging

A proper social media crisis management plan requires fast thinking. As more and more questions or feedback come your way, taking the time to craft and contemplate every individual response will become time-consuming.

Preparing a document of frequently-asked-questions – and accompanying answers – well in advance, preferably when the crisis is still on “low heat” will save you time and prevent further damage.

5. Involve C-level Executives

You’ve probably heard of the concept, ‘The Social CEO’. It describes any C-suite executive who actively seeks to extend their expertise, brand, and presence to the social media playground.

Social-savvy CEOs not only benefit themselves, but they also make their companies look good, especially during crises. In fact, 82% of customers are more likely to trust a company whose CEO and leadership team is active on these channels.

For a social media crisis management plan to be truly impactful, your C-levels need to be at the forefront of your social community. This is a time to ditch the corporate speak and be authentic and genuine. We just love how Steve Lucas handles that Marketo crisis:

Steve Lucas issuing an apology, which is part of a good social media crisis management plan

Build a Winning Social Media Crisis Management Plan!

No matter the size and industry of your company, social media crises can spark at any point. Before your brand reputation deteriorates, your marketing team needs to be able to take action and cool down the fire with these 5 principles.

If you can show your customers that you’re doing everything in your power – applying principle one to five – you’ll be able to gain their trust back.

Remember that things will be moving at a miles speed, so relying solely on your individual instinct isn’t enough. Having a social listening tool will ensure that you can monitor everything that every person says or posts across all social networks. With this, you can spot the early signs of a social media crisis and assess the potential impact before it becomes untamable.

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