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Handling a Social Media Crisis

Scared to PostOh no… Your company did or said something it regrets, and now people are calling you out via social media. The tweets and messages are flooding in, and you know that with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a 24-hour news cycle, things can spiral out of control quicker than ever. It may seem like it, but more often than not, it’s not the end of the world. In most cases, there are some things you can do to respond appropriately and potentially mitigate some of the backlash.  Here are a few tips:

Have a Plan in Place
As my favorite coach Jim Harbaugh once said, “Pressure comes from lack of preparation.” If your customers, competitors, fans or foes are on social media – and it doesn’t matter if there are 30 or 30,000 of them – you should be prepared. Everyone should have a social media crisis plan or protocol at their disposal – it’ll make dealing with situations like these much more organized and less stressful.

Avoid Knee-Jerk Reactions
Take a deep breath. Try and think big picture, but not too big – remember, this likely isn’t life changing for most people. Also, remember to stop any automatic posts you have set up since it could come across extremely insensitive to post promotional messages about your business or products amidst a crisis. Get to the bottom of the issue and get the right people on-board with your response, and then respond.

Show You Care
Most people just want to be heard. A direct reply to their concerns can go a long way. Of course there may be those who lash out, “troll” your online conversations or not abide by your terms of use, but try to directly respond to as many people as you can, and be genuine. If you need to take the conversation offline, provide a means to do that.  If you don’t know all of the facts, tell people that. Let them know what you do know and what you’re doing to fix it.

Learn from your Mistakes
Once the crisis is “over,” reassure fans and followers that you’ve learned from your mistakes and have put steps in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. When planning future marketing programs, don’t just look at the potential value in them – also assess the risks. Social networks are fluid – things are constantly changing and new news is quickly rising to the top. If you show people you’ve listened and that you’re learning, they’ll be more likely to forgive and move on.

Do you have a social media plan in place? If so, you’ll be glad you did if and when the time comes. If not, it’s time to get on it! We’d be happy to help you think through potential scenarios, appropriate responses and best practices.

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