Learn everything you need to know about online social media crisis management for brands and businesses.
Having an online presence for your business is no longer an option but a must-have. Given the vastness of the digital landscape, you have a chance to market your business widely and reach a wider audience.
However, going online not only helps you bring in customers and keep them informed about your business, but it’s also a way to communicate with them on a personal level.
Even though you already have a solid brand reputation, your customers may still respond negatively to one of your actions. This will therefore hurt your brand and result in a crisis.
A business crisis is a precarious scenario that affects the success of your campaign and your brand reputation. Therefore, you must have a strong crisis management plan to recover from the situation.
This blog discusses crisis management in further detail, including examples and strategies to deal with it.
What is a business crisis?
Business crisis is a situation in which an action that you have taken has led to a negative impact on your business. It affects the way you do business and your brand’s reputation.
It’s crucial to understand that a business crisis is distinct from a bad customer review or a customer complaint. Customers may criticize your company publicly, leave negative comments online, or even call for a boycott.
Simply put, a business crisis is anything that has caused widespread dissatisfaction, hatred, rage, or mistrust among people.
If the problem is not resolved immediately, it could have long-term effects on your brand.
For example, the audience called Tanishq, an Indian Jewelry brand and a division of Titan Company, on social media for a controversial ad. This was an ad for Tanishq’s new collection called Ekatvam. The ad showed a Muslim family organizing a traditional Hindu baby shower ceremony for their Hindu daughter-in-law.
This advertisement did offend many religious groups, sparking a significant outcry on social media. Later, the company released a statement explaining that they did not intend to offend anyone’s religious feelings and that they had decided to remove the advertisement.
Any brand would hate to be in this scenario, so crisis management is necessary.
What is crisis management?
A crisis management plan is a roadmap to deal with the situation that has hurt your customers’ sentiments and negatively impacted your business.
It includes instructions on determining the kind and scope of a crisis. It also includes up-to-date contact information for crucial workers and a clear statement of the roles and responsibilities that each department must perform.
What is social media crisis management?
Today 80% of customers use social media to engage with a brand. It means that any action that goes wrong will spark conversations from customers online. They’ll first reach out on social media.
Customers now find it quite simple to tag or call out your organization on social media as it is a preferred means of communication. They also believe it is appropriate to publicly express their rage, hatred, or dissatisfaction toward your brand because your followers can see it.
If the issue is left unaddressed, this can escalate the simple issue into an alarming crisis. This is where social media crisis management comes into play. Having a foolproof crisis management plan will help you deal with the problem immediately and prevent it from getting out of control.
Why is social media crisis management important?
The good news is that social media is a powerful tool for dealing with a business crisis. Here’s how you can use social media for crisis management:
- You can simultaneously reach more people thanks to social media. All you have to do is post a message on one or two platforms. Therefore, when a crisis arises, broadcast a message and send it to customers.
- Customers occasionally post negative comments or bring up a problem on social media. You can ask your customer support team to respond quickly through a private or public message. Try addressing the problem in a public message if a consumer has made anything public because it builds a good impression for your brand and makes customers feel valued.
Now that we know how social media can play a significant role in crisis management, we’ll walk through a step-by-step process on how to create a social media crisis management plan and communicate across critical departments.
How to create a social media crisis management plan
Even when acting in your customers’ best interests, you may still offend them resulting in a crisis. As a result, you need to develop a backup plan to handle the crisis.
Here is a quick guide on drafting a social media crisis management plan if you don’t know where to begin.
1. Identify the key problem
The first step in developing a social media crisis plan is pinpointing the problem and its source. The problem doesn’t need to have originated online. Perhaps a single public remark or newsworthy event led to the problem that later ignited online discussion.
Finding the cause of the problem is important for the right response and the distribution of that response through the appropriate channels.
If you find that the crisis started offline, check your social media to see if there is any discussion. You must expect that there will be one even if it hasn’t happened yet.
With Radarr, it’s easy to track online conversations about your brand and understand your audience’s sentiments.
However, if you discover a heated discussion online, do the following:
- If any trend has resulted from this,
- What harm has already been done
- What social networking site is receiving the most comments?
You must properly assess the problem to develop an effective plan.
2. Understand if the issue is a crisis or problem
The next step in crisis management is determining how serious the problem is. Is it a problem or a crisis?
Although it may seem that both terms are quite similar, that is untrue. The two situations require different approaches. Thus it’s crucial to understand the differences between a crisis and a problem.
Let’s understand it with an example:
A customer contacts you on social media when they have a problem with your product or service. Do you refer to this as a problem or a crisis? Undoubtedly a problem, right?
Because it’s a minor problem that can be settled by providing prompt customer service, a refund, or a discount.
However, a crisis develops when many customers collectively criticize your company and demand a response. Because the support staff cannot solve all of your problems here,
A better strategy is required.
We recommend starting with a typical customer service strategy if you’re unsure if the issue is a problem or a crisis. But also be ready if the situation escalates and develops into a crisis.
Pro tip: You can analyze the severity of a situation using sentiment analysis.
3. It’s time to execute the plan
When you have chosen the best course of action, it is time to implement your strategy. An internal flow chart that outlines what each team member must do to address the problem can be created for this purpose.
Customer service representatives and managers at executive levels are frequently required to provide more than the usual response. If the issue worsens, top executives may occasionally need to step in.
Make sure you don’t post anything new on social media or send marketing emails to your customers until the issue settles. This shows your customers that you’re dedicated to resolving the issue.
With the help of the steps listed above, we think it is now evident how to develop a social media crisis management strategy for your company. However, it’s important to comprehend it better from a real-life example before you begin resolving company crises.
We have therefore highlighted a few real businesses together with the social media crisis management strategy they used to get through the problem.
Social media crisis management examples to learn from
Brands, both big and small, are susceptible to a business crisis. It is unexpected and occurs anytime, significantly impacting your company’s reputation.
Here are some real-life business crises along with the strategy they followed to overcome the crisis:
1. H&M – Racial Advertising
A picture of a black child wearing a green hoodie with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle” printed on it that was posted on the website of H&M, a global clothing business with headquarters in Sweden, drew criticism. People were outraged by this and claimed that H&M’s ad campaign was terrible on social media.
Several users shared this picture, criticizing H&M for racially inappropriate advertising and stating they would stop buying from the brand.
Even one of its most prominent partners, artist The Weeknd, announced ending his partnership with H&M on Twitter. The 27-year-old stated that the image had “seriously hurt him.” He worked with the firm to design a collection and model it.
How did the brand respond to it?
The brand issued the following statement in an attempt to express its regret to the public after receiving harsh criticism on social media:
2. Burger King – Insensitive and sexist marketing
On International Women’s Day, the fast food restaurant Burger King sparked controversy by tweeting that “women belong in the kitchen.”
The company was accused of using a sexist clickbait cliche.
The aim was to poke fun at this sexist phrase and highlight the female cooks in these restaurants, but the tone was lost on Twitter, and the backlash was swift.
How did the brand respond to it?
The fast-food giant’s social media team spent the rest of the day issuing explanations and apologies, finally removing the tweet.
3. Nike – Product Failure
Zion Williamson, a renowned basketball player for Duke University, was hurt when his Nike shoe ripped during a game.
Williamson slipped and hurt his knee, forcing him to leave the game. As the globe pondered how a sneaker could split so dramatically in the middle of a game, Nike stock closed down 1.05 percent the next day.
As soon as this happened, Nike’s name was all over social media, with many criticizing the firm for creating such a poor item that would practically fall off the foot of the most well-known athlete on the field.
Rival shoe brand Puma even got in on the act, posting a now-deleted tweet saying Williamson’s injury “wouldn’t have happened in the Pumas.”
How did the brand respond to it?
Shortly after the incident, Nike released a statement to the media saying, “The quality and performance of our products are of the highest priority. We are worried and wish Zion a swift recovery. Even though this is a singular incident, we are trying to figure it out.
Note: The one lesson we can take away from these social media crises is that it is best to acknowledge your brand’s mistakes and address them as soon as possible.
Tips to manage social media crisis
Here’s how to respond if you suddenly find yourself the target of widespread outrage or criticism. The following is what needs to be included in your social media crisis management plan:
1. Track your online reputation
It’s important to track your online reputation to stay prepared for a business crisis. You can do it with the help of reputation management tools available online. These tools help you analyze every mention of your brand online (tagged or untagged), sentiment, and how the brand’s perception has changed over time.
Additionally, you can access every mention about your brand or products online with the help of the “mention feed.”
After tracking your online reputation, you must develop a social media crisis management plan. You must create a crisis plan considering every possibility, such as what to do if you receive a bad review, notice an influx of negative comments, or mention by a famous or influential person.
Write down every possible situation and go through them with your social media and customer support team. Ensure that they know the appropriate responses, how to prioritize particular conversations, and when to report on them.
2. Respond promptly
If you think that ignoring a problem will make it go away, trust us when we say it won’t. It will exacerbate the situation because customers, at the very least, want you to acknowledge the issue and act swiftly.
If you think a certain action has led to public outrage, you might delete it or issue a sincere apology or retraction. Lingering on the issue will only allow it to spiral out of hand. Simply acknowledge a problem and let people know that more information is coming soon.
For instance, Versace, a luxury brand, had to apologize for inappropriate printing content on some of its T-shirts. After receiving harsh criticism on social media, Versace admitted that it had made a mistake and stopped selling the tops.
Pro tip: Learn how to improve your social media response rate.
3. Check your social media policy
In the worst situation, irresponsible social media posts made by your employees may potentially result in a crisis. But by adopting a social media policy, you can prevent this.
Every company ought to have a social media policy that is clear. The policy should include appropriate use, criteria for branded accounts, and how employees can discuss the company on their personal channels.
However, depending on the sector and size of the business, each organization’s social media policy will look different. But, you must specify the following terms in your policy:
- Copyright regulations. The chances are that your employees don’t understand the copyright issues. Thus you can lay down guidelines on how to use and credit third-party content.
- Restriction on privacy. This should clearly state how to interact with customers online and when a conversation needs to move to a private channel.
- Norms for confidentiality. Mention in detail what information about the company, both internal and external, employees are permitted to disclose.
- Brand voice guideline. The tone, the team, must use while communicating with customers online through social media should be mentioned. It should mention the situations in which they should be formal and humorous.
4. Have a crisis communication plan
Even if you have never experienced a social media crisis, it is always advisable to be ready. So, your top priority should be developing a social media crisis communication plan.
Having a crisis communication plan in a social emergency will give you clarity of thought and practical knowledge. As was previously stated, the best action in a social media crisis is to act immediately, so having a strategy in place means you won’t have to battle decision-making or wait for guidance from top managers.
Everyone, from senior executives to entry-level staff, should be made aware of the actions needed during a social media crisis in the plan.
You must include the following points in your social media crisis communication plan:
- Rules for assessing the type and severity of a crisis.
- Roles and responsibilities for each department.
- A communication plan for internal updates.
- Up-to-date contact information for critical employees.
- Procedures for approving social media messages.
- Any external messages, images, or data that has been previously allowed.
- A link to social media policy.
5. Practice social listening
You know social media crises come without knocking on your door. You never know when a small problem could get out of hand and become a crisis. Social listening is crucial in this situation. Social listening enables you to identify a growing problem on social media before it develops into a crisis.
You can tell if your brand is receiving unwelcome attention by keeping track of brand mentions on social media. But you should keep an eye on social sentiment to get a clearer picture and determine whether this will result in a social media crisis.
Social sentiment is a metric that helps you understand what people feel about your brand. If you see a sudden change in the sentiment, maybe it’s time to dig into your listening streams to see what people are saying about you.
Also, it can be tough if your marketing team has never dealt with social media crises before. But sometimes, even when you lack a full-fledged plan, your audience might have something to say that can help you handle the situation in a better way.
With social listening, you can keep track of the feedback your company receives and choose how to incorporate their suggestions into practical action.
Nearly 5 billion people in the world use social media. As a result, it is practically hard to monitor what consumers or other people say about your brand online. Social media listening tools like Radarr can be useful here. It is a powerful social media intelligence tool that helps you easily listen, monitor, and track online conversations. Click here to learn more!
6. Engage with commentators
A social media crisis is the last thing you need. It not only slows down the expansion of your company but it also takes a lot of time and effort. But it’s crucial to interact with your commenters.
Engaging with commenters shows your interest in the public’s opinion and your attention to their issues. But keep it brief, and avoid arguing at all costs.
Ensure you are not defending yourself or getting into a heated debate while interacting with your commentators. Instead, acknowledge the concerns and frustrations of the public.
If someone demands more of your attention, try to move the conversation into a private message, email, or phone call. But take the moral high ground, regardless of the communication channel.
It’s important to analyze the sentiments of your audience before engaging with them to come up with the best response. Use Radarr to measure human emotions behind online conversations.
7. Keep the internal communication moving
Not only do false information and rumors about your business circulate outside , but they can occasionally even reach your internal team. And if the top level does not address them, they can easily escalate and have negative impacts.
Consequently, internal communication must be covered in your social media crisis management plan.
It aids in alleviating the tension and angst that come with a social media crisis. Thanks to internal communication, everyone on the team will be better able to comprehend what is expected of them throughout the crisis.
8. Secure your social media accounts
Although it may seem obvious, social media crises can occasionally occur when hackers access your accounts.
In reality, 14% of social media users have reportedly faced unwanted activity on their accounts, according to the Norton Cyber Safety Report 2021.
It has been noticed that employees are more likely than hackers to commit a cybercrime. How? Using weak passwords, accessing unauthorized files from the company system, entering social media logins on multiple devices, etc.
Make sure you only provide a select few people access to the passwords to your social media accounts. Because if more people know your credentials, the likelihood of a security compromise increases.
Employees who leave the company or take on positions where they are not responsible for posting on social media should also have their access revoked.
Pro tip: Use different passwords for various social media platforms.By doing this, you can stop hackers from getting access to all of your social media accounts and minimize your loss.
9. Put your schedule posts on hold
When experiencing a social media crisis, hitting the post button is not a good idea, even if you have scheduled posts for important days. Until the social media situation is resolved, you must also halt any promotional campaigns. Because the last thing you want is for your customers to think you are tone deaf to the problem.
An ill-timed scheduled post will, at best, make you appear ignorant. At worst, it might totally undermine your crisis management strategy.
10. Learn from your social media crisis
Although handling a social media crisis can be extremely stressful, there are also some important lessons to learn for your company. Make sure you review the entire event and determine what may have been done better after the issue has been resolved.
Consider this experience a chance to grow and become better. Look at the reasons behind the crisis and whether you could have prevented it in the first place.
Share the key information with other departments, so they are best prepared the next time they encounter a similar situation. Get feedback from your marketing, social media, or customer care teams to improve your social media crisis management plan.
Each lesson should serve as a road map for your business.
Social media monitoring and analytics tools like Radarr can help your business gather insights and actionables on one dashboard. Book a demo today!
Create an effective social media crisis management plan for your organization now
You don’t have to wait for something uncertain to happen to create a social media crisis management plan. It should be your top priority because you never know what that one action can land you in a situation of crisis. So better be prepared.
When it comes to social media crises, you should respond as quickly as you can. Own responsibility for your action, apologize, and have a foolproof plan to deal with it. But most organizations only know that they are under social media crisis when the situation escalates to the point that it is tough to manage.
It’s where you need to focus on social listening, monitoring, and tracking online conversations about your brand. You can use a powerful social media intelligence tool called Radarr.
Radarr offers you the following features so that you can prevent social media crisis:
- Understand your audience
- Identify brand sentiment
- Manage reputation and crises
- Predict and keep up with trends
Are you ready to explore Radarr and learn more about it? Book a free demo today!