Preparation – the key to success!
Emotions – one thing that spreads fast as fire over the social media community. The problem is when people start voicing their negative feelings online towards your product or service. It can lead to some really messy situations. As a brand, you want to avoid them at all costs.
But, sometimes things just go pretty bad, pretty fast. Incorrect information gets out. Posts are interpreted in a wrong way, or something completely inappropriate gets published. Sometimes, even small issues or simple mistakes have a potential to escalate into a crisis of massive proportions.
If your brand communicates directly with its customers, a crisis situation is almost inevitable to happen. Good news? With a quality preparation and an effective plan, it can be managed in a way which will minimize the damage to your brand and business.
The role of a community manager
We like to see community management as the first line of defense in an online crisis situation. You probably heard the saying “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”. For some a cliché, but it’s actually excellent advice. The worst thing you could do is deciding how to handle a crisis in the middle of it happening. So, prepare a detailed plan beforehand. And if you never use it, consider yourself lucky.
The key advantage of having a pre-made crisis plan? It is knowing exactly every step that needs to be taken in a given situation. It’s a form of a protocol. Vital for any brand which is present on the social media. It serves as clear guidelines for everyone involved in a crisis. It also gives no room for time wasting debates on what is the right thing to do or say in a delicate situation.
A good crisis plan should include all the people communicating with the public. Everyone from CEOs to community managers should communicate the same prearranged message.
A good tip is also to run test simulations of certain crisis situations. The first step is to detect those which are most likely to happen. For example, if you’re a food brand, you need to be prepared for situations where people will buy your product and be disappointed with its quality. The food often times may go wrong in a long process of it getting to the customer. Guess where is the first place where your angry customer will go and vent. Social media, of course!
Simulations of this kind of events will help you perfect your crisis management plan and detect any hidden flaws or problems in it. It will also mean that you’ve done your research well and you’re prepared for any imminent threats.
A few steps for prevention
To prevent a crisis of even happening you need to be constantly alert and be aware of what is happening on your social media pages. As a community manager, your job is to keep an eye on every single comment, share or mention on your pages. Often times, you’ll be the first person to notice a potential problem that could turn into a full-blown crisis if not taken care of at the right time. Also, a good thing to practice is to monitor a few keywords or hashtags related to your brand. You can do that easily with the help of tools like Hootsuite or Socialbakers Builder.
Another simple, but useful tip is to act fast! Social media channels are a perfect outlet for letting go frustration and anger. And sometimes, bad customer service or a flawed product can be an ideal trigger for people to vent all their dissatisfaction on your Page.
In these kinds of situations, you need to use the real-time nature of social media in your advantage and act as quick as possible. But, always keep in mind that everything said on social media is staying out there forever. People can take screenshots and hold onto your words. Be extra sensitive when formulating your answers.
Here, we go back to preparation and crisis plan. Within the plan, you should have prepared answers for different situations which include specially selected words. Never get into long, heated arguments in the comments. The best formula for this kind of situations is to say you’re sorry and publicly admit your guilt.
If the person insists on further communication with you, take it offline as soon as possible. You can do that by taking contact information from the person involved (email or phone number) and directing the communication into the private environment.
Did you ever handle a social media crisis on your own or you’ve maybe been on the other side as a customer?
Tell us about your experience.