You Got Caught in a Social Media Crisis: Now What?
Digital Marketing Institute claims that social networks are a customer support channel. They let customers connect with their favorite brands and build relationships with them. This is where they ask questions, post-user-generated content, participate in giveaways, and share experiences.
Still, keep in mind that customer feedback is not always rainbows and butterflies. On the contrary, they use social networks to express their disappointment, too. And, as you already know, negative criticism spreads faster than praise.
This shouldn’t scare you. With the right strategy, you can survive any major social media crisis and even win your dissatisfied customers over. Here’s how.
Craft a thorough social media crisis plan
Even the most popular brands face criticism and that’s fine. You cannot make everyone happy. But, the question is how you will control negative comments once they start growing out of control.
First of all, you need to craft a crisis management plan to keep you on track. Instead of wasting your precious time discussing what to do, you will be fully prepared to take actionable steps. The plan needs to be easily understandable, concise and tailored to your organization’s goals. It should include the steps every staff member should take, including:
- Tips on how to identify the type of crisis.
- Clear responsibilities of each team.
- A straightforward communication plan for your departments.
- The detailed approval process for the content posted on social media.
- A company-wide social media policy.
Additionally, you need to check whether your plans hold up. Think of a type of crisis that may affect your company heavily and run its simulations. Encourage everyone to take it seriously so you can assess how long it takes to implement the plan and detect its weaknesses.
Stay on top of your customers’ discussions
To notice a potential threat to your online brand, you need to constantly keep track of any trends and changes relevant to you. This is where social media monitoring steps in. There are numerous tools that will notify you whenever one of your hashtags or keywords is mentioned. Here are a few aspects of your social media campaign you can monitor using a social listening tool:
- Your brand name
- Your product names
- Your rivals
- Customer service inquiries
- The company CEO
- Major influencers in your industry
- Popular keywords related to your industry
- Members of your PR team
Have a social media crisis scale
Once you notice that a heated debate may grow into a social media crisis, you need to take immediate steps to prevent that from happening. Still, different issues require different approaches and this is why you need to set social media crisis thresholds. For example, you could set your scale based on your customers’ sentiment, as well as the number and the frequency of mentions. For example, if you’re receiving just a few negative mentions hourly, you should just keep listening to your target audience’s discussions, while your customer support staff responds. But, if the crisis keeps rising, you should get involved in discussions directly and even start working with your PR team on offering transparent information and creating targeted content.
How to handle the crisis?
Once you find yourself in the middle of the crisis, you need to make smart moves. Here is what you should keep in mind.
- Make your decisions quickly.
On social networks, a polite conversation can escalate into a massive debate in a matter of seconds. And, when negative comments start spreading like wildfire, you need to give relevant feedback fast. Your goal should be to defend your brand by providing timely, informative, and data-backed answers.
- Respect your customers’ opinions.
No matter if you agree with them or not, never forget that the customer is always right. First, never ignore or delete negative comments. Responding to positive feedback solely will only enhance your target audience’s frustration. When answering negative criticism, make sure your voice is friendly and professional and your messages are direct. Offer a brief response and provide your phone number and email address to make the conversation more personal.
- Boost the communication among your employees.
Encourage your employees to familiarize themselves with the crisis plan and to improve their communication and collaboration. Make sure each staff member knows what their role is and what they should or shouldn’t say about the certain issue. This is the only way to ensure that your brand messaging remains consistent and prevent the spread of rumors effectively.
Assess the damage
Once the dust settles, you need to pay attention to the effects of the crisis on your social media presence. Hold a meeting with anyone involved in the problem and analyze what exactly happened, why this happened, and how it happened. This is a great opportunity for you to reassess your social media crisis plan, see what worked and what not, and improve it accordingly. You should also take a look at your major social media KPIs, such as engagement metrics, follower rates, share of voice, conversion rate, CTR, and so forth.
Over to you
These examples teach us that social media crisis management is all about prevention and making strategic, timely, and data-oriented decisions. So, build a social media crisis plan, reap the power of social listening, make decisions fast, and show you appreciate your customers’ opinions. Most importantly, learn from your mistakes and improve your strategy in the future.
Written by Elaine Bennett. She is a marketing specialist and a blogger, currently writing for Bizzmark Blog. Topics that she covers include marketing, branding, entrepreneurship, and SMBs. She’s especially interested in social media and technology. You can follow her on Twitter.
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